Microsoft is Waging Cyberwar

Friday, September 30, 2011

Joel Harding

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Legal cyberwar, now that’s a welcome relief!

I was part of a conversation last year, the evening that Microsoft took down the Waledac botnet on February 25th, 2010.  The conversation involved a number of seniors from the US Department of Defense and a senior at a very large defense contractor.

I didn’t know a lot of details of the takedown at that point, I later found out that Microsoft had been granted permission by a federal court to take over the domain name, effectively shutting down a spam botnet.

As a small sidenote to that evening, it was the consensus of these seniors and of the rest of the 10 to 15 ‘insiders’ was that industry (mostly defense contractors) was much more capable of ‘fighting’ in cyberspace than was the government. 

At the time, don’t forget, I didn’t know this meant waging war through the courts.  ‘We’ might have thought that corporations might have some capabilities that the government does not have.  I am not excluding cyber weapons or other cyber capabilities, please notice. 

The possibility was left open and available.  As far as I know, however, this was the extent of how these capabilities were discussed and I’m certainly not aware of any use of any of these capabilities.

Back to the point.

Microsoft has launched yet another salvo in the legal war in cyberspace, again against a botnet – the Kelihos botnet.  This time, however, there is a difference, we have a name. Dominique Alexander Piatti is the named defendant, plus 22 “John Does”.

Incidentally, Dominique Alexander Piatti was also connected with a drug scam alert this past July.  The domain name is the same: cz.cc, as he is a Czech Republic citizen. The botnet is supposed to be relatively small, capable of launching only 4 billion spam emails per day.

This issue has been discussed on literally hundreds of other websites, so why should I write about this?  I’d like to point out the obvious. Here we have a case of a large corporation ‘taking down’ a botnet and the only involvement the government has is a rubber stamp approval. 

A federal court judge taps his gavel and the request for taking down a domain and all sub-domains is approved.  This indicates to me that a corporation is taking care of me, a private citizen.  It also indicates that the government cannot or will not protect me.

So…  why is there a DHS?  Isn’t DHS supposed to help protect me?  If they’re working with Microsoft in this effort, why aren’t they telling us?  Why aren’t they taking the lead and launching an army of lawyers against these botnets?  

I already know that the US Cyber Command only protects DoD computer networks and systems, so this is not questioning them, I just want to let you know I’ve at least considered that option.

DHS does not have the resources to protect US citizens, US corporations or any other government infrastructure beyond the critical infrastructure. Yet it is their mission to provide Homeland Security.

When will DHS step up to the plate and perform their mission? Do we need a Department of Microsoft instead?

Related articles Cross-posted from To Inform is to Influence
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