06/10/11

Fed Seeks Industry Standard for Botnet Mitigation

The Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security met with various other government agencies and private-sector leaders yesterday to discuss the need for a code of conduct for detecting, mitigating, and otherwise dealing with botnets.

The invitational meeting was hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and among the topics covered by the group of IT policy experts was the problematic and at time controversial issue of notifying individuals whose computers have been infected with malware and are part of a botnet. There was also a panel discussion with members from the U.S. Internet Service Providers Association, DHS, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and StopBadware. The panel discussed how ISPs and other organizations can play their part in the fight against botnets by developing ways to better detect their activities and notify infected consumers.

According to a NIST press release, there are an estimated 4 million new botnets infections each month. These infected machines can be used for any number of reasons. Individuals can have their personal information and communications monitored, their computing power and internet access exploited, or more commonly, their computer can be used to disseminate spam, store or transfer illegal content and launch DDoS attacks.

“Improving cybersecurity requires a combination of efforts in which everyone has a role to play,” said White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt in his keynote address. “By working together to achieve better security, we can make the improvements needed that will ensure the security and resilience we need to prosper as a nation.”

As examined in a recent Securelist piece and asked in our latest Threatpost poll, the question of how to deal with the network of infected computers left in the wake of a botnet takedown is an increasingly relevant one, as corporate and law enforcement partnerships experience more success against botnets.

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