MySpace taps Microsoft security bigwig for CSO gig

Hugely popular social networking site has hired a chief security officer, naming a Microsoft executive to help protect the online community's more than 68 million members.

Hemanshu "Hemu" Nigam, a former prosecutor and director of consumer security outreach and child-safe computing at Microsoft, will take over as CSO at Fox Interactive Media's MySpace on May 1, according to a statement issued today.

The hiring comes as MySpace – one of web's most visited sites – faces increased public scrutiny over its security infrastructure. Authorities have made several arrests recently after adults used the site to arrange sexual encounters with minors.

"Hemu is a proven leader in online safety and security," said Chris DeWole, MySpace chief executive officer. "We are fortunate to have him join MySpace, help us educate the public and protect our members' safety and privacy. MySpace has always been committed to an industry leading role in internet safety and will continue to partner with all stakeholders including parents, educators, law enforcement and safety groups."

Nigam's role at Microsoft includes overseeing outreach and partnership development with government agencies and organizations involved in online consumer safety and security.

He spearheaded an initiative to build a "holistic approach to child-safe computing" and served as a spokesman on virus, hacking and spam-enforcement awareness.

Nigam also has worked as a federal prosecutor specializing in internet child exploitation cases, and he has served as adviser on cyberstalking for the White House.

"Fox Interactive Media and its network of properties will greatly benefit from Hemu's experience, stature among law-enforcement and private industry leaders and strategic vision," said Russ Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media. "We look forward to working with Hemu as we continue in our commitment to provide a leadership role in developing industry standards that safeguard our growing community of members."

MySpace also announced Monday it is helping to lead an industry-wide effort to promote online safety through a series of national public-service advertisements, some of which will appear as pop-ups on the site.

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