Survey Finds Growing Worry Over Cyberattacks

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In the wake of recent sophisticated cyberattacks against Google and other companies, technology leaders have expressed heightened concerns over online attacks against both companies and critical infrastructure, particularly as control and data monitoring systems for key systems are increasingly relying on the open Internet for communications, rather than leased private lines and proprietary networks. But how much are people worried? A new survey of 600 information technology and computing executives from around the world finds that more than half believe they have already been targeted by large scale cyberattacks, and 60 percent of respondents believe “foreign governments” have been involved in some attacks—although “foreign” in this case can refer to the United States as easily as any other country.

The McAfee survey was authored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In today’s economic climate, it is imperative that organizations prepare for the instability that cyberattacks on critical infrastructure can cause,” said McAfee president and CEO Dave DeWalt, in a statement. “From public transportation, to energy to telecommunications, these are the systems we depend on every day. An attack on any of these industries could cause widespread economic disruptions, environmental disasters, loss of property, and even loss of life.”

Over one third of those surveyed believe the threat cyberattacks present to critical infrastructure is growing, and 40 percent expect a major cyber security incident within the next year. Fully a fifth of respondents claim they have already been targeted by financial extortion attempts.

More than half of those surveyed believe the laws in their country are insufficient to deter potential cyberattacks—respondents in Russia, Mexico, and Brazil were the most skeptical, and nearly half (45 percent) of respondents said they didn’t believe governmental authorities could deter or prevent cyberattacks.

When asked what country respondents felt was the greatest concern as the source of cyberattacks, 36 percent named the United States and 33 percent named China. However, China also earned praise from some respondents for rapid adoption of security measures.

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