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We can't stop botnet attacks alone, says US government report

The tech industry and consumers need to pitch in too.


There's a new report out on botnets.

James Martin/CNET

Botnets -- they're not going away.

A newly released report from the departments of Homeland Security and Commerce takes a dive into the global cybersecurity issue. A botnet is a network of internet-connected devices that are infected with malware and controlled without the users' knowledge. They're used to launch things like distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks or ransomware attacks that can put critical infrastructure at risk, making them a big concern for the government.

Among the report's findings are that botnet attacks are a global problem, that devices need to be more secure and that folks need better education about securing their devices. These attacks aren't a problem one person or group can solve. 

"No single stakeholder community can address the problem in isolation," the report says. "This effort will not end with the publication of this report. There is much work to do."

In May, the FBI put out a call for people to reboot their routers because "foreign cyber actors [had] compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and other networked devices worldwide." Back in October 2016, hackers launched the Mirai botnet, which took down sites like Twitter, Spotify and Netflix through a DDoS attack. Three hackers pleaded guilty in December 2017 to creating the botnet.

The report also lists goals for improving the situation:

  • Goal 1: Identify a clear pathway toward an adaptable, sustainable and secure technology marketplace. 
  • Goal 2: Promote innovation in the infrastructure for dynamic adaptation to evolving threats. 
  • Goal 3: Promote innovation at the edge of the network to prevent, detect and mitigate automated, distributed attacks. 
  • Goal 4: Promote and support coalitions between the security, infrastructure and operational technology communities domestically and around the world. 
  • Goal 5: Increase awareness and education across the ecosystem.

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