FCC proposes anti-botnet code of conduct for ISPs

America’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has proposed a new voluntary code of conduct to deal with botnets, drafted in cooperation with companies including Verizon, Cox, and Comcast.

A number of large ISPs have signed up to the scheme, including AT&T, CenturyLink, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable. Together, they account for approximately half of US Internet users.

Participating ISPs are required to take “meaningful action” in each of the following areas:

  • Education – an activity intended to help increase end-user education and awareness of botnet issues and how to help prevent bot infections
  • Detection – an activity intended to identify botnet activity in the ISP’s network, obtain information on botnet activity in the ISP’s network, or enable end-users to self-determine potential bot infections on their end-user devices
  • Notification – an activity intended to notify customers of suspected bot infections or enable customers to determine if they may be infected by a bot
  • Remediation – an activity intended to provide information to end-users about how they can remediate bot infections, or to assist end-users in remediating bot infections
  • Collaboration – an activity to share with other ISPs feedback and experience learned from the participating ISP’s Code activities
The code has “a pretty good prospect of being widely adopted,” said Michael O’Reirdan, chair of the FCC’s Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group.
It is in the interests of ISPs to do so. It benefits them to keep their networks free of malware. We are codifying to some extent what they’ve done already.

The obstacle I foresee is fear of additional costs. Some ISPs are scared of additional calls to call centers after notification.

— Michael O’Reirdan, speaking to Ars Technica
ABCs for ISPs | Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group