Tackling cybercrime and ransomware head-on: Disrupting criminal networks and protecting organisations

Marja Laitinen, Digital Crimes Unit Lead and Sarah Armstrong-Smith, Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft EMEA


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Abstract: This paper provides a look into the current cybercrime trends, fuelled by the ongoing digital transformation and global pandemic, proliferating across organisations of all sizes and posing high socio-economic risk to critical infrastructure and supply chains. Attackers are capitalising on the technological advances, cloud adoption and hybrid working environments through launching targeted and persistent, human-operated ransomware campaigns. A coordinated and sustained effort is required between governments and the private sector to disrupt criminal infrastructures and global networks that cybercriminals rely on to launch and profit from their attacks. Collaboration and partnerships are also required to support organisations with building necessary cybersecurity capability to prevent, detect and respond to ransomware threats, through adopting zero trust principles and architectures by design and default.


KEYWORDS: cybercrime; ransomware; law enforcement; organised crime; cyberattacks; cyber security protection; zero trust


Marja Laitinen leads Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), managing a team of attorneys, investigators, business intelligence analysts and outside counsels across the region. Together with her team she supervises Microsoft’s enforcement efforts against organised criminals and other illicit organisations engaged in cybercrime and related illegal activities. Ever since joining Microsoft in 2000, Marja has collaborated extensively with police, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials in EMEA. Before this she worked at Susiluoto Attorneys-At-Law Ltd, a leading Finnish law firm in the field of IPR protection. A Finnish national, Marja is a graduate of the University of Helsinki Law School, and she is currently based in Finland.


Sarah Armstrong-Smith is chief security adviser in Microsoft’s Cybersecurity Solutions Area. She principally works with strategic and major customers across Europe, to help them evolve their security strategy and capabilities to support digital transformation and cloud adoption. Sarah has a background in business continuity, disaster recovery, data protection and privacy, as well as crisis management. Combining these elements means she operates holistically to understand the cyber security landscape, and how this can be proactively enabled to deliver effective resilience. Sarah has been recognised as one of the most influential women in UK tech and UK cyber security and she regularly contributes to thought leadership and industry publications.


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