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FCC asks ISPs to use guidelines to help combat botnets

updated 04:05 pm EDT, Fri March 23, 2012

Publishes voluntary code of ISP conduct

The FCC, in conjunction with several major network service providers, has published a code of conduct that will help mitigate and eliminate the spread of botnet attacks (PDF). It's asking ISPs to voluntarily abide by that code. Already, seven network providers, representing over one-half of all US-based Internet subscribers have agreed to comply.

A botnet is a network of computers that have been infected with malware that puts the devices under the command and control of a remote operator. Typically, the compromised devices collectively can be used as a network to launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks or e-mail spamming campaigns, or just to steal large amounts of personal information.

The potential costs of netbot-powered attacks go beyond those associated with identity theft. They include more calls to help desks by customers asking to get the malware out of their computers. The botnets can also put a strain on network backbones by flooding them with upstream bandwidth traffic demand. ISPs often find themselves complaining to each other about the other's spam-generated traffic.

The FCC plans to engage the ISPs along several fronts including education, detection, notification, remediation, and collaboration. It hopes each ISP will sign on to educate its end-users about the threat netbots present and suggest precautionary steps. Agency officials also want the ISPs to monitor their end-user base and, if they detect an infestation, notify customers. Providers would be encouraged to collaborate and share any information that will help stop and clean up the infection.

"This Code of Conduct would be a major step forward," stated FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, "and a significant complement to the Administration's broader efforts against botnets." Comcast, Cox and Verizon collaborated with the FCC in creating this voluntary code of conduct. Other ISPs, including CenturyLink, AT&T, Sprint, and Time Warner, said they would follow the suggestions. [via Srs Technica]

by MacNN Staff



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