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White House Backs Anti-botnet Initiatives on Schmidt's Last Day

Industry Botnet Group: A Collaborative Effort to Combat Botnets

The Obama administration is backing a series of new initiatives proposed by the Industry Botnet Group (IBG), a voluntary, industry-led working group that plans to develop a stronger coordinated attack against botnets and the criminals behind them. Wednesday’s presentation also marked the final public appearance by Howard Schmidt, the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, who is set to retire today.

The IBG’s initiatives are aimed at reducing the impact botnets have on cyberspace, and encouraging greater cross-border cooperation in order to stop those controlling the bots and harvesting the ill-gotten proceeds of a bot campaign – from hijacked sensitive and personal information, to stolen cash. IBG outline nine principles Wednesday during the White House’s event, but the Obama administration stressed that each one is voluntary.

Industry Botnet Group“No one entity can combat these security challenges alone. Individually we can take measures to defend ourselves, and together we can do even more to protect the ecosystem,” said Liesyl Franz, speaking on behalf of the IBG.

“Every participant has a role in helping to reduce the impact, and that is why we came together…to work together. These principles reflect the lifecycle of botnet mitigation...”

There are nine principles on the table, each one crafted though a joint effort of the IBG participants – including NCSA, BSA, Stop Badware, Tech America, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the Online Trust Alliance.

To start, the first principle focuses on sharing responsibility. Organizations in the private and commercial sector need to work together across the entire lifecycle from prevention to mitigation. In addition, the second principle is coordination, allowing the same organizations to better analyze the collected botnet and threat data.

After that, there is confrontation across borders, preventing those maintaining the botnets from hiding in nations that would shelter them from the law. Finally, education, flexibility, innovation, privacy and legal adaptation, round out the list.

“The principles recognize that the Internet is a shared resource, and that all participants—from consumers to businesses to governments—benefit from a safe, trusted online environment," the IBG said in a statement.

In his last public appearance as the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, Howard Schmidt noted, “the issue of botnets is larger than any one industry or country. This is why partnership is so important.”

"No one entity can combat these security challenges alone," said Liesyl Franz, vice president for cybersecurity policy at TechAmerica, speaking on behalf of the IBG. "Individually we can take measures to defend ourselves, and together we can do even more to protect the ecosystem."

The trick will be getting everyone to stay on the same page and play along. And that’s easier said than done.

Related: FCC, Industry Partners Unveil 'Anti-botnet Code of Conduct' for ISPs

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.