ISPs Focus on New Security Tactics

Monday, March 26, 2012 @ 02:03 PM gHale


Four of the largest U.S. Internet service providers committed to combating three major cyber security threats, based on recommendations from a U.S. Federal Communications Commission advisory committee.

The ISPs, including AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications, said Thursday they will implement measures to fight botnets, domain name fraud and Internet route hijacking. The FCC’s Communications, Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) adopted the recommendations for voluntary action by ISPs the same day.

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Eight wired and wireless ISPs, representing about 80% of the broadband subscribers in the U.S., are members of CSRIC and signed on to the recommendations.

“These actions will have a significant positive impact on Internet security,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said. “If you own a PC, you’ll be significantly better protected against your computer [being] taken over by a bad actor, who could destroy your private files or steal your personal information. If you shop or bank online, you’ll be significantly better protected against being directed to an illegitimate website and having your credit card number stolen.”

The recommendations preserve the open architecture of the Internet and protect Internet users’ privacy, Genachowski said.

The CSRIC recommendations embraced by the ISPs include an antibot code of conduct. ISPs agreed to educate customers about botnets and to take steps to identify botnet activity on their networks. ISPs will also warn customers about botnet infections on their computers and offer assistance to customers with compromised computers, under the code of conduct.

The ISPs also committed to implement a set of best practices to secure the Internet’s Domain Name System by implementing DNSSEC, a set of secure protocol extensions designed to prevent DNS spoofing.

CSRIC also recommended the Internet industry develop an Internet Protocol-route highjacking framework, including new technologies and practices to limit the number of times that Internet traffic ends up misdirected.

T-Mobile USA, one of the ISPs signing on to the recommendations, called cyber security an “extremely important issue.” The company supports voluntary, industrywide deployment of DNSSEC, T-Mobile said.

ISPs will need help from other Internet companies to implement the security measures, said Bob Quinn, AT&T’s senior vice president for federal regulatory affairs.

“DNSSEC is predicated upon a chain of trust across the Internet,” he said. “[CSRIC] recommends that key industry segments such as banking, healthcare and others sign their respective domains and that software developers, such as web-browser developers, study how and when to incorporate DNSSEC validation functions into their software.”



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