News Release

For Immediate Release        

FBI Agent Thomas X.
Grasso Receives First J.D. Falk Award
for Establishing DNS Changer Working Group and Protecting End-Users

Baltimore, Maryland, Oct.
25, 2012
Convincing competitors, disparate business entities and researchers
to collaborate – many donating their services and resources – to protect
millions of end-users worldwide is no small feat. Yet FBI Supervisory Special
Agent Thomas X. Grasso did just that by quietly working behind the scenes to
create the DNS Changer Working Group that saved an inestimable number of
end-users from losing access to the Web over the last two years.  Recognizing his leadership, Grasso received the
inaugural J.D. Falk award on Tuesday at the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse
Working Group 26th General Meeting in Baltimore.



The first-annual J.D. Falk Award

embodies the kind of personal sense of responsibility and accountability that
built the Internet and is vital to its future growth.  First, he had the foresight to understand the
problem and to realize that something could be done to prevent it.  Then it took an enormous commitment of his
time and energy to muster the resources and bring dissimilar entities together
to accomplish an objective that turned out to be a critical issue for many
end-users,” said M3AAWG Co-Chairman Chris Roosenraad.


created the ad hoc committee based on the relationships and goodwill he had
developed over his 12
years working with the Internet industry.  He persuaded large corporations to commit
time and funds to notify infected customers, and convinced anti-virus vendors,
Internet Service Providers and the security research community to cooperate in
the project.  DCWG members include Georgia
Tech, Internet Systems Consortium, Mandiant, National Cyber-Forensics and
Training Alliance, Neustar, Spamhaus, Team Cymru, Trend Micro and others.

In November 2011, the
FBI’s Operation Ghost Click led to the arrest of six Estonians allegedly behind
the distribution of the DNS Changer malware and thought to be operating the illicit
Rove Digital advertising network. The malware hijacked Internet searches and re-routed
Web browsers of infected computers to fraudulent sites on Rove Digital’s network
by altering the DNS settings the computers use to locate websites. Once the rogue
servers were turned off, the malware-infected computers that had their settings
redirected to them would not have been able to reach the Web.  

DNS Changer Working Group was Grasso’s idea to encourage end-user remediation
of the malware and to respond to the massive challenge of potentially millions
of users losing access to the Web. The
group helped monitor the DNS servers that were now legally operated by the
Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) under a court order, and as a result, the infected
users received a useful message to clean up their machines instead of suddenly
dropping off the Internet. 

“The FBI
recognizes the invaluable assistance the private sector and academia provided through
the DNS Changer Working Group,” said Joseph M. Demarest, assistant director of
the FBI’s Cyber Division.

CAUCE founding member J.D.
Falk, an active member of M3AAWG and many other industry
organizations, was passionate about safeguarding the Internet, end-user
security and the impact of cooperative endeavors. The award named after him recognizes
individuals for specific achievements that enhance the Internet experience,
protect end-users, and embody his spirit of volunteerism and community
building. It is administered by M3AAWG
with the support of Falk’s employer Return Path Inc. and the Falk family.