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Obama Administration Partners With Industry To Fight Botnets

At a White House event Wednesday, officials unveiled a series of initiatives meant to fight botnet infections
The U.S. government announced a series of initiatives today in partnership with the private sector to fight botnet activity.

The initiatives, which were announced at an event at the White House, are the result of a partnership between the Homeland Security and Commerce departments, the White House Cybersecurity Office, and a coalition of trade associations and nonprofits known as the Industry Botnet Group (IBG).

"Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility -- the responsibility of government, our private sector partners, and every computer user," said Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, in a statement. "DHS has set out on a path to build a cyber system that supports secure and resilient infrastructure, encourages innovation, and protects openness, privacy and civil liberties."

As part of the effort, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) is working on a pilot program to share information about botnet attacks this year with organizations and people outside of the financial sector. Officials also announced the FBI and U.S. Secret Service have recently stepped up information-sharing with the private sector and have worked together to shut down botnets, such as Coreflood.

[ Efforts are under way to get more accurate accounting of bot-infected machines. See How To Better Measure Botnet Size. ]

The other initiatives detailed today include the efforts of IBG, which launched a consumer education campaign called "Keep a Clean Machine" and released its "Principles for Voluntary Efforts to Reduce the Impact of Botnets in Cyberspace."

These principles call on Internet users to voluntarily:

● share cyber-responsibilities by employing reasonable technologies to thwart the effectiveness of botnets across all phases of the mitigation life cycle: prevention, detection, notification, remediation, and recovery;

● coordinate across sectors in order to better analyze, prevent, and combat threats;

● confront the problem globally through cross-border collaboration;

● report lessons learned with partners in the Internet ecosystem;

● educate users by making information and resources available to them;

● preserve flexibility for responses by different entities to an ever-evolving threat environment;

● promote innovation to foster technological advances;

● respect privacy; and

● navigate the complex legal environment.

"It takes a global village, with all the suppliers involved, to fight bots," said Michael O'Reirdan, chairman of the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG), in a statement. "The only way to effectively protect consumers is for the operators, vendors and other participants serving the Internet ecosystem to recognize their shared responsibility in addressing the problem and then integrate the appropriate defenses into their daily business practices. The IBG principals encourage the industry to be assertive and acknowledge the problem, cooperate, coordinate and be flexible in their responses."

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