May 30, 2018

Homeland Security and Commerce Departments release botnets report

Photo: Westend61/Getty

The Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce released an eagerly awaited report on botnets today, networks of hacked devices used in other attacks — President Trump ordered the report on botnets as part of a cybersecurity executive order just over a year ago.

Why it matters: The Mirai botnet famously downed Twitter, the New York Times, Netflix and Etsy among others when it overloaded a critical internet juncture point with traffic in 2016. That type attack is known as a denial of service. Before denial of service attacks, botnets were used in massive spam operations.

Fixing the market: The report emphasized marketplace-based solutions as opposed to regulations, which it passed off as largely antithetical to innovation.

The solutions: Educating consumers to understand that insecure connected devices, from cameras to computers, can result in these attacks.

  • Anticipating that most industries will autonomously settle on bare minimum security standards as companies try to keep up with each other.
  • Using the government's purchasing power to influence the market. The feds are big buyers of connected technology, and emphasizing secure purchases can make it economically more viable to design a secure system and get federal contracts than to design an insecure one and not.
  • Encouraging companies to provide security information to allow consumers to make better choices.
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