botnet (By BeeBright/

Commerce seeks ideas for battling botnets

The Department of Commerce is looking for input on the best ways to battle botnets and other "automated, distributed attacks that affect large sets of victims, and that put the broader network and its users at risk."

In a request for comment published in the June 13 Federal Register, Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration urges all interested stakeholders to weigh in on "ways to improve industry's ability to reduce threats perpetuated by automated distributed attacks, such as botnets, and what role, if any, the U.S. Government should play in this area."

That possible government role caused consternation when the administration's cybersecurity executive order was being drafted earlier this year, as some in industry worried the order would mandate actions to combat botnets.  The final text, however, included only voluntary collaboration; the NTIA notice is part of Commerce's efforts to execute that part of the executive order. 

Comments are due by July 13, and submission instructions are included in the notice.   Stakeholders are asked to explore what approaches work well today in dealing with automated and distributed threats; what gaps exist in those existing approaches; what tangible steps could be taken to fill those gaps; what sorts of governance are needed; what roles the government should play; how users can be educated and empowered; and what the international considerations might be.

Commerce, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, has until January 2018 to release a preliminary report on recommended actions regarding automated distributed attacks.

The department will also host a public workshop on this subject July 11 and 12 at the National Institute of Standards and Technology's National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of, Schneider also helped launch the political site in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times,, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.

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