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Government Takes Action On Internet Badness

Sources of online criminal activity, such as Atrivo/Intercage and McColo, are no longer around. While I am not quite willing to share the full story behind these takedowns just yet, I can say that community action was the key.
Sources of online criminal activity, such as Atrivo/Intercage and McColo, are no longer around. While I am not quite willing to share the full story behind these takedowns just yet, I can say that community action was the key.Last year, operators worldwide decided "enough is enough." This was a major change from even just two years ago when operators resisted acting as what they dubbed "the Internet's firewall."

But criminals hiding in plain sight in the U.S. -- next to our favorite restaurants -- were becoming just a bit too much.

Blaming Russia and China as the sources of today's most malicious online activity is factually correct: The traffic does come from their IP addresses. But what about the incorporated criminals right here? Phishing, botnets, and child pornography are just some of the ills hosted by these bad apples.

Law enforcement is helpless. Investigations take years, the proof requirements are costly, and resources are scarce. ISPs need to maintain their networks. But at some point, waiting for the police to show up is self-delusional in the vast majority of cases.

With Atrivo/Intercage and McColo, the Internet community became energized; the bad apples lost their upstream providers and eventually went out of business. The criminals scattered to shady operations, which cost them more and don't have the veneer of legitimacy.

The government saw what was going on and realized -- perhaps in shame, perhaps because they cared -- that they had to make a move. And most recently, the Federal Trade Commission disconnected another bad apple on the Net, Pricewert.

From Shadowserver to Spamhaus, the FTC's official announcement mentioned many community organizations and individuals that helped with the case. Without the Internet community, this operation would not have been possible. Whatever the future holds, the FTC recognized that the Internet governs itself. The Internet groups, on their own, provided the proof required for the government to take action.

While I was not involved in this particular operation, as the person who founded a large part of the online watchdog community, I applaud the FTC for its foresight. This cooperation is a good first step to real Internet governance, and it goes beyond arguing about who makes money from domain names.

Follow Gadi Evron on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gadievron

Gadi Evron is an independent security strategist based in Israel. Special to Dark Reading.

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