Adversarial Internet robots (botnets) represent a growing threat to
the safe use and stability of the Internet. Botnets can play a role in
launching adversary reconnaissance (scanning and phishing), influence
operations (upvoting), and financing operations (ransomware,
market manipulation, denial of service, spamming, and ad click fraud)
while obfuscating tailored tactical operations. Reducing the presence
of botnets on the Internet, with the aspirational target of zero,
is a powerful vision for galvanizing policy action. Setting a global
goal, encouraging international cooperation, creating incentives for
improving networks, and supporting entities for botnet takedowns
are among several policies that could advance this goal. These policies
raise significant questions regarding proper authorities/access
that cannot be answered in the abstract. Systems analysis has been
widely used in other domains to achieve sufficient detail to enable
these questions to be dealt with in concrete terms. Defeating botnets
using an observe-pursue-counter architecture is analyzed, the technical
feasibility is affirmed, and the authorities/access questions are
significantly narrowed. Recommended next steps include: supporting
the international botnet takedown community, expanding network
observatories, enhancing the underlying network science at scale, conducting
detailed systems analysis, and developing appropriate policy
frameworks.

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