Americans Rate Cyber-Security as Hot Issue in Presidential Election: Survey

Cyber-security is considered by many Americans to be a "very important" issue for this year’s election candidates. In particular, a focus on defending utilities and transportation systems from cyber-attacks is important, according to a survey by Unisys.

Cyber-security has worked its way onto Americans€™ list of hot-button issues in the coming presidential election, according to research from the Unisys Corporation.
According to the bi-annual Unisys Security Index, 74 percent of those surveyed listed protecting government systems from hackers as a €œvery important€ issue for presidential candidates. Furthermore, 73 percent also counted the defense of utilities and transportation systems from cyber attacks as €œvery important,€ compared to 68 percent who said the same of homeland security issues such as terrorism.
"The latest results of our survey show that the American people recognize the impact that cyber-attacks can have on our critical infrastructure and are looking to the U.S. government to take on a more active role in proactively defending our nation€™s key assets, €œ said Steve Vinsik, vice president of enterprise security at Unisys, in a statement.
€œIt€™s interesting that more respondents to our survey said they were concerned about cyber-attacks than physical terror attacks. This illustrates that Americans€™ perception of security threats is changing, and our nation€™s response to those threats must change too.€
This follows the growth of politically driven cyber-crime in recent years as hacktivists have struck both government agencies and organizations. According to Verizon€™s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report, hacktivism was linked to nearly 60 percent of the data stolen in 855 incidents across the globe in 2011.
The survey, which fielded answers from 1,005 Americans, chronicled a slight drop in the overall level of concern about security issues. This year, the Unisys Security Index score for the country was 131, down from 164 in May 2011. The score is on a scale of zero to 300. All four areas of security concern surveyed by Unisys€”national, personal, Internet and financial€”dropped in the current survey. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents said they were either very concerned or extremely concerned about identity theft, while 56 percent of respondents were seriously concerned about unauthorized credit card use.
€œThese findings are especially significant for our public sector clients, because they directly relate to the way these organizations should offer online services to citizens,€ blogged Vinsik.

€œCitizens who want to access their social security records or tax information online will expect the government to protect their identities and their privacy. Public sector organizations will have to provide secure authentication and strong protection from cyber-criminals.€
When it came to password security, 55 percent of U.S. respondents said they prefer using complex passwords€”combinations of uppercase and lower case letters, symbols and numbers€”for mobile security. Biometric technology such as fingerprints, voice or facial images were the second most preferred method and 37 percent of respondents showed a preference for one or more of those methods for protecting mobile devices outside the workplace. Roughly one-third (32 percent), however, stated they would rather use simple passwords to protect their mobile devices outside the workplace.
€œThis is a worrisome finding for executives and enterprise IT managers,€ Vinsik added. €œPasswords alone simply do not provide a sufficient level of security to protect sensitive data against today€™s sophisticated cyber-criminals. Organizations need to leverage the use of facial and voice biometrics that most smartphones are capable of supporting today.€