Gabe Rottman and Ian Williams write:
Viewers of HBO’s Game of Thrones will be familiar with the Army of the Dead, a horde of undead wights who are on a collision course with the land of the living. Yet many viewers are likely unaware that their own personal computers may be part of another army of zombies, under the sway not of dark magic, but instead of malicious programs that allow hackers to connect a large number of individual computers and other networked devices (including smartphones, medical devices, and even security cameras) into a single network called a botnet.
In recent years the Department of Justice and the FBI have cast themselves in the role of Jon Snow, raising an army of government and private actors to take down botnets and the hackers behind them. While the government has used current legal tools against botnets, a new bill seeks to expand the government’s authority to disrupt botnets. The question is, how far will the government go with these new powers? As with the recent change to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that would allow law enforcement to hack the victims of botnets, the proposal would give the DOJ and FBI the ability to access infected computers and potentially “clean” malware without the knowledge or consent of the owner. This raises hard questions, both for cybersecurity and civil liberties.
Read more on CDT.