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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

April 9, 2012 at 6:15 AM

On forefront of fight against piracy

(This profile of Zoe Krumm, a senior business intelligence manager on Microsoft’s worldwide anti-piracy team, is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times April 9, 2012. – Janet I. Tu)

krummphoto.jpgAmid the engineers and programmers roaming the Microsoft campus, Zoe Krumm stands out.

Instead of talking XML and HTML5, she talks FBI and ICE.

Rather than tracking the number of bugs, she tracks the number of raids.

Tall, stylish and athletic (she rows, swims and runs marathons), Krumm is a senior business intelligence manager — one of seven — on Microsoft’s worldwide anti-piracy team — a job that’s kind of like being a crime-scene analyst.

Trying to figure out how a suspected counterfeit product fits into a bigger pattern? Call on Krumm.

Urgently need someone to pull together data while a raid of a counterfeiting ring warehouse is under way? Krumm again.

Her role is to pull in and make sense of thousands of pieces of piracy-related data that come in each month from a wide variety of sources. She sorts out the links between them to come up with the bigger picture.

She pores over the data to figure out, say, how a suspected fake product from a customer in Peoria might be tied to products purchased from a reseller in Houston, who might be tied to a customs seizure in San Antonio, which might be tied, ultimately, to a counterfeit ring in another country.

She also has to make sure the big picture and the nitty-gritty details are conveyed in such a way that they’re useful to forensics experts, law-enforcement officers and lawyers who are on the front lines battling piracy.

“Zoe can find anything,” said Tom Montgomery, a senior program manager in anti-piracy investigations at Microsoft, who’s worked with Krumm for 10 years. “When she does research, there’s none better. Put her on the trail of something and, I tell you, Zoe will find it.”

For someone who got into anti-piracy work in a roundabout way — through rowing, in a way — Krumm is passionate about the issue.

Source of losses

Piracy is a big problem for software companies such as Microsoft. The company won’t say how much it loses each year from counterfeiters selling fake Microsoft products. Nor will it disclose how much it spends combating the problem. But it cites the Business Software Alliance’s estimate that software-piracy losses among tech companies totaled $59 billion worldwide in 2010.

Customers themselves, of course, are also harmed, Krumm says, not just because they’ve bought fake products. These days, with software increasingly sold online, pirates are moving there, too, meaning victims could unwittingly be downloading viruses and malware along with counterfeit software.

“It makes you very passionate about the work because you know there are people who are being deceived,” she says. “They think they’re buying genuine, spending a lot of money, and you know they’re buying counterfeit. And there are criminals sitting behind the syndicate making a lot of money.”

(Continue reading the story here.)

(Photo of Zoe Krumm, center, with colleagues Sue Ventura and Donal Keating, by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

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