Livingood called on other ISPs and websites to implement DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), a set of tools designed to authenticate the origin of DNS clients on the Internet. In January, Comcast was the first U.S. ISP to implement DNSSEC, in development since the late '90s.
But Amoroso said DNSSEC adds complexity to the jobs of network operators and can be defeated if DNSSEC servers are compromised. "The complexity can be very stifling," he said.
Livingood and other witnesses also called on Congress to provide legal protections to private companies that want to share cyberthreat information with each other. Amoroso agreed, saying private companies already share some information, but in some cases, private companies may want to keep some information to themselves.
AT&T may not want to share its proprietary efforts to protect the Apple iPhone with other mobile carriers offering the same device, he said. "I'd like my customers to say, 'hey, we're going to stay with AT&T because they're really investing in doing protection,'" he said. "It's not necessary for us to share, the market is going to force our competitors to catch up, or me to catch up with someone else."
Instead of private information sharing, Congress could look at ways that government agencies can more easily share classified and other thread information with companies, Amoroso said. "Whenever I get involved in something like that, there's more lawyers involved in the discussion than there are people in this room," he said.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.