Public anxiety mounts over critical infrastructure resilience to cyber attacks – Help Net Security

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With temporary failures of critical infrastructure on the rise in the recent years, 81% of US residents are worried about how secure critical infrastructure may be, according to MITRE and The Harris Poll.

Public views cyberattacks as greatest risk to critical infrastructure

The public considers cyberattacks to be of the greatest risk to critical infrastructure (78% are concerned about cyberattacks), and 51% are not confident that we are prepared to recover from an attack.

“Threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure have heightened dramatically as the Chinese Communist Party and others have accelerated their capacity to conduct cyberattacks on our systems,” said Charles Clancy, Ph.D., SVP and CTO, MITRE. “The MITRE-Harris Poll shows that the public is worried about these threats to the vital services we depend on every day, and MITRE is in a unique position to connect government and critical infrastructure providers to take steps now to secure them.”

When it comes to who should bear responsibility for fixing and fortifying our critical infrastructure, 78% believe the federal government bears full or partial responsibility for fortifying it. 49% say it’s the responsibility of both public and private entities, particularly among older generations (55% for Gen X and 60% for Baby Boomers+) and suburban and rural residents (52% and 54% respectively).

29%t believe the federal government is solely responsible, with 35% of urban residents holding this opinion.

“The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and other government agencies have been beating the drum to wake up critical infrastructure operators and Congress as to the potential threats on our energy, water, communications, and transportation systems,” added Yosry Barsoum, VP, MITRE. “CISA offers numerous resources to help operators prepare for attacks, but more support is needed to counter the increased frequency and sophistication of these threats.”

Contradictory views on US critical infrastructure safety

In addition, the MITRE-Harris Poll survey found that although 64% of residents believe that the US has one of the safest and most secure critical infrastructures in the world, 81% are still worried about its safety and security. Concern about critical infrastructure is consistently high across all regions of the US, but homeowners, urban residents, and people over the age of 27 (Millennials and older) are the most concerned.

“In this poll, Gen Z stands out based on substantially lower levels of concerns about security and safety of critical infrastructure vs. any other demographic group,” noted Rob Jekielek, managing director, The Harris Poll. “This insight is key reinforcement of Gen Z’s ambivalence to many cybersecurity issues. Although, and likely because, Gen Z are digital natives, they treat privacy and security threats much more lightly than other generations.”

The US public considers cyberattacks, terrorism, and aging/failing infrastructure to be the greatest risks to critical infrastructure. While 51% of the public are concerned that critical infrastructure may not recover from an attack, those numbers rise with older generations (59% for Gen X and 56% for Baby Boomers+) and rural residents (59%).

The general public can prepare for attacks on critical infrastructure much like they do for storms and other natural disasters.

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