Microsoft Malware Protection Center Research Laboratory Opens in Munich

Microsoft has expanded its malware research operations in Munich, Germany, to analyze and detect ongoing cyber-threats.

The latest member of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center family is open and fully operational in Germany, according to Microsoft.

The new malware research facility is in Munich and will monitor threats in the region, Microsoft said July 26. The facility will be looking at both active threats as well as proactively looking for malware that may affect Windows users in the future.

Microsoft selected Munich for its central location in Europe and for its proximity to various Microsoft development organizations and support centers, Tim Rains, director of product management with the Trustworthy Computing group at Microsoft, told eWEEK. The facility will also be near several of Microsoft's "talented researchers" located in Central Europe, Rains said.

The Munich laboratory will be "able to keep a pulse on the European territory," Rains said.

MMPC laboratories collaborate and share research with each other and act as first responders when malware issues arise in their specific region, according to Rains. Along with core malware research and responding to new threats, MMPC also collaborates with law enforcement organizations, Rains said.

Europe is a large market for Microsoft and the new research center would allow the company to "be more agile" in responding to local threats across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Vinny Gullotto, MMPC general manager, wrote on the Threat Research & Response blog.

There are other MMPC research facilities in Redmond, Wash.; Dublin, Ireland; Melbourne, Australia; and Vancouver, Canada, as well as researchers based in New York, Los Angeles and Beijing. The Beijing researchers and the Melbourne laboratory cover the Asia region, Rains said.

"The MMPC's global presence lets us respond quickly and effectively to the changing threat landscape," Gullotto said.

The new German facility is also intended to complement the existing anti-malware research laboratory in Dublin, according to Gullotto.

The most common category of threats found in Germany during the fourth quarter of 2010 was "potentially unwanted software," which affected 31.2 percent of all infected machines, Microsoft found in its latest Security Intelligence Report. Malware was detected on 5.3 out of every 1,000 computers scanned in Germany in the fourth quarter of 2010, the report found.

The MMPC network monitors over 600 million Windows computers worldwide for malware threats, according to Microsoft. The research is used in various Microsoft products such as the Microsoft Forefront suite of products and the freely available security tools Microsoft Security Essentials, Malicious Software Removal Tool and Windows Defender.