Study Shows Americans Support “Internet Kill Switch” – National Security Remains Top Concern for Americans
Sixty-one percent of Americans said the President should have the ability to shut down portions of the Internet in the event of a coordinated malicious cyber attack, according to a recent study conducted by information technology giant, Unisys.
The findings, part of the latest bi-annual Unisys Security Index, suggest the public may support a pending cybersecurity bill that would give the President far-reaching authority over the Internet in the case of an emergency.
“A majority of the American population is willing to grant the President the authority to cut short their Internet access to protect both U.S. assets and citizens, suggesting that the public is taking cyber warfare very seriously,” said Patricia Titus, vice president and chief information security officer, Unisys. “Our survey shows that the American public recognizes the danger of a cyber attack and wants the federal government to take an active role in extending the nation’s cyber defense. It will be up to officials in all branches of the federal government to respond to this call to action in a way that is measured and well planned.”
The “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010” introduced in June, and being debated in congress, would allow the president to take emergency measures to protect the nation’s most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited.
Recent events such as the Stuxnet computer worm attack and the attempted Times Square car bombing may have heightened the American public’s awareness of and concern over global and domestic cybersecurity threats.
While the results of the study indicate that Americans are being more proactive in protecting themselves from cyber crime and identity theft, the majority of Americans surveyed are neglecting other important aspects of cyber security, particularly around their use of consumer devices. Only 37% of users surveyed say they are regularly using and updating passwords on their mobile devices. For normal “phone only” mobile devices, this isn’t much of an issue – but with today’s smartphones being loaded with personal data, it’s important to protect the devices.
“As millions of consumer devices such as mobile phones continue to penetrate the workplace, the survey’s finding on consumers’ inattention to securing mobile devices should serve as a wake-up call for consumers and enterprises to actively pursue measures to protect the information exchanged with and residing on these devices,” said Mark Cohn, vice president of enterprise security for Unisys. “Enterprises, as well as the manufacturers of mobile devices, should take steps to ensure that sensitive data protection is enabled by default and is as simple and convenient as possible.”
The Unisys Security Index surveys consumer opinion on four areas of security: financial, national, Internet and personal safety. The results are tallied on a scale of 0-300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived concern.
The overall score for the current Unisys Security Index for the United States was 136, indicating a moderate level of overall security concern. The overall score declined from 147 since the last survey taken in February 2010, reflecting a decrease in concern across all four areas of security.
National security and financial security continued to rank as the U.S. public’s greatest areas of concern, with more than half (59%) “extremely” or “very” concerned about U.S. national security. In addition, 57% percent of Americans were seriously concerned about identity theft, and the same percentage is also seriously concerned about credit card and debit card fraud.
American’s fear surrounding Internet security continues to be on the decline with the number of Americans “not concerned” about computer security in relation to viruses or spam increasing to 34%, the greatest number since the Index’s inception. The most dramatic decline was reported in those “seriously concerned” about the security of shopping or banking online – from 43% in February 2010 to 34% in August 2010.
Global Results of the Unisys Security Index
Unisys surveyed more than 10,575 consumers in 11 countries around the world about their current security concerns. Additional key global findings from the latest Unisys Security Index include:
• Security concerns were highest in Brazil, which reported an overall index score of 185, closely followed by Hong Kong with a score of 172. The Netherlands reported the lowest level of concern with an overall score of 71.
• Bank card fraud is the greatest single area of concern across all eleven countries surveyed. Despite the severity of the worldwide financial crisis, concern about bankcard fraud consistently overshadows concern about meeting financial obligations in countries with serious concerns about financial security.
• Most Europeans take the protection of their online privacy and identity seriously. In Germany, 28% of internet users switched banks or retailers because of unhappiness with their privacy and identity protection or have considered doing so.
The Unisys Security Index is a bi-annual global study that provides insights into the attitudes of consumers on a wide range of security related issues. Lieberman Research Group conducted the survey in Latin America, Europe and the U.S.; Newspoll conducted the research in Asia-Pacific. The Unisys Security Index surveys more than 10,000 people in eleven countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
More Information on the survey is available at: www.unisyssecurityindex.com