How net neutrality repeal might affect cybersecurity

This week’s FCC vote to repeal net neutrality rules could have some cybersecurity spillover. It depends, according to one cybersecurity expert, on how much internet service providers have to disclose about blocking or throttling traffic.

“Less transparency on how traffic is managed at the network level might provide a benefit to bad actors because they thrive where there is less transparency,” said Harley Geiger, director of public policy at Rapid7. “It will be more difficult to protect against bad behavior through traffic patterns when those traffic patterns” are accompanied by “some opaque system,” Geiger said.

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There’s an argument that repealing net neutrality rules could improve cyber defenses, however. Shane Tews, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said it could be a good counter to distributed denial of service attacks that flood a network with traffic. “This expert’s advice about the best ways to mitigate a cyberattack such as a DDoS attack is to throttle, block, and potentially prioritize traffic for a specific reason, all forbidden by the previous FCC chairman,” wrote the conservative think tank cybersecurity specialist. Geiger countered that there might be ways to modify the current net neutrality rules to accommodate such concerns rather than toss them out wholesale.

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