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Cybersecurity groups band together in malware fight

'A chain of trust'

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Three cybersecurity groups said Tuesday they plan to band together to combat the growing scourge of malware.

The Anti-Spyware Coalition, National Cyber Security Alliance, and StopBadware.org said the Chain of Trust Initiative will link together vendors, researchers, government agencies, network providers, and other groups involved in internet security. The members said they want to establish a united front against malware suppliers in much the way groups coalesced to successfully fight providers of adware several years ago.

"Organization and collaboration are out best tools against an enemy that doesn't play by any rules," StopBadware.org's manager, Maxim Weinstein, said in a statement announcing the alliance. "Just by nature of how the internet works, malware distributors have a technological advantage, but we can respond by strengthening our shared networks and by better understanding our shared responsibilities."

Maybe so, but it's clear that the participants have their work cut out. While the groups are looking to the the success the ASC, or Anti-Spyware Coalition, had in the past few years driving Gator, Zango and other adware and spyware purveyors out of business, fighting malware crooks will be a different thing altogether. Unlike most of the adware pushers, malware organizations don't tend to be legal entities located in the US.

The pressure exerted by the previous coalition forced adware vendors "to decide whether to become legitimate players in the marketplace...or go completely to the dark side," Ari Schwartz, the ASC's coordinator and vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said, according to IDG News. Certainly, Schwartz must already know that malware distributors have dwelled on the dark side for years now.

It's also a little unclear what concrete tasks the new group plans to undertake. Tuesday's announcement says it will "lead the mapping effort and jointly develop ideas and initiatives to form stronger bonds between links on the chain." Is that a fancy way of saying it plans to figure out what its next step will be?

The group says it will release a "paper tracking the results of the mapping project and proposed initial recommendations to strengthen the chain." ®

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