RICHMOND (VA) — According to a poll, most Americans, regardless of party affiliation, are concerned about cyberattacks against U.S. computers. They view China as a major threat and Russia an even greater threat.
The poll by The Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that about 9 in 10 Americans are at least somewhat concerned about hacking that involves their personal information, financial institutions, government agencies or certain utilities. Two-thirds of respondents say they are extremely or very concerned.
A majority of Americans believe that the Chinese and Russian governments pose a threat to cybersecurity. At least half consider the Iranian government and other non-governmental bodies to be threatening.
The broad consensus highlights cyberattacks’ growing impact in an increasingly connected world. It could help President Biden and legislators to push critical industries to improve their cyber defenses, and impose reporting requirements on companies that are hacked. This poll is being conducted amid high-profile cyber espionage and ransomware attacks that have targeted sensitive government records. These attacks have led to the closure of schools, hospitals, and energy companies.
” It’s not common nowadays to find problems that both large majority of Republicans and Democrats” consider a problem,” said David Sterrett (a senior research scientist at the AP-NORC Center).
Biden made cybersecurity a priority in his new administration. Federal lawmakers are now considering legislation to strengthen both private and public cyber defenses.
Michael Daniel is the Cyber Threat Alliance’s CEO and an ex-top cybersecurity official under the Obama administration. He said that the poll showed that the public is well aware of the online threats that have been emphasized by cybersecurity experts for many years.
” We don’t have to do a lot more awareness raising,” said he.
The rise in ransomware in the past year, where cybercriminals encrypt data from organizations and demand payment in order to unlock it, has highlighted how extortionist hackers can disrupt an economy and place lives and livelihoods in danger.
The ransomware attack on May’s company that controls the nation’s largest oil pipeline caused severe gas shortages along the East Coast. A ransomware attack on the largest meat processing company in the world disrupted production worldwide a few weeks later.
Victims of ransomware attacks range from Fortune 500 corporations and key U.S. agencies to smaller entities like Leonardtown in Maryland. Leonardtown was one of many hundreds of affected organizations worldwide when Kaseya, a software company, was attacked by ransomware over the Fourth of July weekend.
” We ended up being very fortunate but it certainly opened our eyes to the possibility that it could happen, ” said Laschelle McKay (the town administrator). She stated that Leonardtown’s I.T. After several days, the provider was able restore the network and files to Leonardtown.
The majority of the criminal syndicates involved in ransomware are Russian-speaking. They operate almost without restriction from Russia and countries that are allies with Russia .. U.S. officials also blame Russian spies in a major hack of U.S. government agencies, known as the SolarWinds Hack. This hack is named after the U.S.-based software company that was involved in the hacking.
China was also active. The Biden administration officially blamed China in July for the massive hack of Microsoft Exchange email servers software. It also stated that hackers affiliated with the Chinese government had carried out ransomware and other illegal cyber operations.
” The number of Chinese cyber actors is greater than the rest of the world, according to Rob Joyce, director of cybersecurity at National Security Agency. It’s a law of large numbers. It’s a law that large numbers .”
Older adults are more likely to see Russia , and China both as serious threats. A large majority of adults over 60 say the Russian and the Chinese governments are a big threat, but only about half of those under 30 agree.
Democrats — at 79% — are somewhat more likely than Republicans — at 70% — to say the Russian government is a big threat. Trump was a Republican and has repeatedly downplayed Russian aggression. After the December SolarWinds hack was revealed, Trump made his first remarks contradicting his secretary of state. He suggested that China was behind it.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,071 adults was conducted Sept. 9-13, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Omnibus, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. All respondents were within a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9%.