Microsoft Battles Cyber Criminals

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) launched a novel legal assault to take down a global network of PCs suspected of spreading spam and harmful computer code, adding what the company believes could become a potent weapon in the battle against cyber criminals.

But security experts say it isn’t yet clear how effective Microsoft’s approach will be, while online rights groups warn that the activities of innocent computer users could be inadvertently disrupted.

On Monday, a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., granted Microsoft’s request for an order to deactivate hundreds of Internet addresses that the company linked to an army of tens of thousands of PCs around the globe, infected with computer code that allows them to be harnessed to spread spam, malicious virus programs and mount mass attacks to disable Web sites.

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