Dave Piscitello Receives M3AAWG Mary Litynski Award for a Lifetime of Fighting DNS and Online Abuse

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As a young security consultant, Dave Piscitello wondered, how do these guys get away with all this spam and malware? which led him to take on the challenging work of persuading the online ecosystem to address DNS abuse and related issues through his years at ICANN and in his involvement with other industry associations. Acknowledging the range and significance of these efforts, the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group presented the 2019 M3AAWG Mary Litynski Award to Piscitello at the M3AAWG 45th General Meeting on February 19 in San Francisco.

With his persistent and unswerving outreach, Dave was eventually able to push the industry to address domain name system abuse to the point that preventive measures have become an ongoing discussion area within the ICANN community. This is an example of how one person can change the accepted perspective around a problem and make a difference, which is the spirit behind the M3AAWG lifetime achievement award, said Severin Walker, M3AAWG Chairman of the Board.

Its also just one of the many contributions he has made over the years in driving the industry to adopt better security measures and he is still energetically urging both the industry and public managers to take action around critical issues. For example, Dave has been actively meeting with law enforcement and data protection policy makers to educate them on the importance of WHOIS access for security researchers, which has been severely restricted due to ill-conceived and overreaching policies implemented to comply with the European Unions new privacy laws, Walker said.

Piscitello was recently named a partner at Interisle Consulting Group and serves on the APWG (Anti-Phishing Working Group) and the CAUCE (Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email) Boards of Directors. During his career, Piscitello served on the Internet Engineering Task Force and the IETF Steering Group and was a technical advisor to security and broadband access companies during the turbulent dot com era. He recently retired from ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is the not-for-profit organization that coordinates the unique identifiers used on the internet that allow computers to find each other. While there, Piscitello served as an ICANN SSAC (Security and Stability Advisory Committee) Fellow and later, as the vice president of security and ICT coordination.

Piscitello was responsible for bringing law enforcement into the ICANN Public Safety Working Group and encouraged private/public cooperation at ICANN. As he and industry trailblazers Vint Cerf, Steve Crocker and Tom Grasso explain in his acceptance video at https://youtu.be/tgLqRR-iVMs, Dave developed a highly-lauded, international law enforcement training program and was the project lead on creating the ICANN Domain Abuse Activity Reporting (DAAR) system to identify patterns of domain registration exploitation. He also has written numerous articles on DNS and abuse issues to educate the industry on how to protect end-users and regularly blogs at www.securityskeptic.com.

GDPR and WHOIS Access Concerns

Piscitello said in accepting the award, We need to adopt privacy and data rights protection but not at the cost of public safety, addressing the implementation policy adopted by ICANN to comply with the EU General Data Privacy Regulation that has restricted security researchers access to the data that identifies the owner of a domain name.

Theres a disconnect here. Without the ability to identify suspicious actors, legitimate and lawful investigators such as security researchers and law enforcement are blindfolded. Were not third-parties who are using WHOIS information commercially, but, rather, were the first responders of cybercrime, part of a critical community that mitigates threats and provides for the publics safety, he said.

He also noted that both industry and government need to be more transparent for the internet to thrive and not be overrun with abuse. Both are going to have to be more accountable. This is an interesting period for us and we all have to adjust because theres so much at stake, he said.

Piscitello started working in the computer industry in 1974 when he took a programming job at Burroughs Corp. to pay for graduate school where he was studying to become a philosophy teacher. He was assigned to rewrite some remote access software and became intrigued by data communications, which led to his career in networking and security.

The M3AAWG Mary Litynski Award is presented annually to recognize the lifetime achievements of an individual who has significantly contributed to making the internet safer for all. Details and submissions for the 2020 award are at https://www.m3aawg.org/events/m3aawg-mary-litynski-award.

The 2019 award was announced at the M3AAWG 45th General Meeting where about 500 participants from over 20 countries are attending more than 50 sessions on cybersecurity, current malware threats, DDoS attacks, mobile issues, and other topics. The next M3AAWG meeting will be June 3-6 in Budapest, Hungry, and details are available at https://www.m3aawg.org/upcoming-meetings.

About M3AAWG (the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group)

The Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG) is where the industry comes together to work against bots, malware, spam, viruses, denial-of-service attacks and other online exploitation. M3AAWG (www.m3aawg.org) members represent more than two billion mailboxes from some of the largest network operators worldwide. It leverages the depth and experience of its global membership to tackle abuse on existing networks and new emerging services through technology, collaboration and public policy. It also works to educate global policy makers on the technical and operational issues related to online abuse and messaging. Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., M3AAWG is driven by market needs and supported by major network operators and messaging providers.

M3AAWG Board of Directors and Sponsors: 1 & 1 Internet SE; Adobe Systems Inc.; AT&T Comcast; Endurance International Group; Facebook; Google, Inc.; LinkedIn; Mailchimp; Marketo, Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Orange; Proofpoint; Rackspace; Return Path, Inc.; SendGrid, Inc.; Vade Secure; Valimail; VeriSign, Inc., and Verizon Media (Yahoo & AOL).

M3AAWG Full Members: Agora, Inc.; Akamai Technologies; Campaign Monitor; Cisco Systems, Inc.; CloudFlare, Inc.; Cyren; dotmailer; eDataSource Inc; ExactTarget, Inc.; IBM; iContact; Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ); Liberty Global; Listrak; Litmus; McAfee; Mimecast; Oracle Marketing Cloud; OVH; Spamhaus; Splio; Symantec; USAA; and Valimail.

A complete member list is available at http://www.m3aawg.org/about/roster.

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