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ISPs Agree to U.S.-Based Anti-Bot Code of Conduct

Both the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) and the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG) said on Thursday that many major IPs have agreed to a new U.S. Anti-Bot Code of Conduct for Internet Service Providers plan, AKA the ABCs for ISPs, that will help fight against malware and greatly reduce online risk to end-users.

The voluntary code is the first unified industry effort to cooperatively address the bot problem on a broad scale. AT&T, Cauce, Comcast, Cox, Damballa, ISC, PayPal, Sprint, Time Warner Cable and Verizon are listed as participants who will engage in the education, detection, notification, remediation and collaboration of botnet infections and related subjects. Other ISPs who want to join the effort must engage in at least one activity in each of those general areas.

"The ABCs for ISPs is a significant step forward and we applaud those ISPs who have already stepped up to the plate," said Neal O’Farrell, executive director, Identity Theft Council. "We have a shared responsibility to help protect consumers from abuse and identity theft.  Consumers should encourage their ISPs and telecommunications carriers to adopt these and other best practices."

The agreement was set in stone on Thursday during the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) meeting. The OTA reports that it has been working with the FCC's CSRIC Working Group 7 (WG #7) and leading ISPs to develop this voluntary Code over the past 12 months. Microsoft, Symantec, Internet Identity and CenturyLink are also listed as long-time participants since the effort began last year.

"The recommendations approved today identify smart, practical, voluntary solutions that will materially improve the cyber security of commercial networks and bolster the broader endeavors of our federal partners," said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

"Bots are a serious concern for end-users, the economy and the nation. Looking at the significant reduction in spam over the years, we know that cooperative industry action is effective against online abuse. This anti-bot code was developed as a voluntary industry-led initiative in CSRIC Working Group 7 and is a new framework for attacking the problem and reducing the danger," said Michael O'Reirdan, M3AAWG co-chairman and also WG #7 chair.

ISPs and network operators adhering to the practices recommended by the code will be allowed to state their participation publicly and to be identified on official industry listings of participating service providers, the M3AAWG said. They will also be listed on a Web page maintained by the M3AAWG.