Public Worried About Cyber Attacks

Public Worried About Cyber Attacks

Mark Pfeifle, a cybersecurity expert, discusses the results of a recent TIPP Poll on the subject as well as steps to improve cybersecurity.

Mark Pfeifle
Mark Pfeifle

Eight out of ten Americans are concerned about cyber attacks and cybercrimes in the U.S.

53% think the situation surrounding cyber-attacks and cybercrimes in the U.S. has gotten worse in the past year.  The results are from a TIPP Poll of 1,261 Americans conducted in late January.

The Big Picture

A ransomware attack on a critical U.S. pipeline network disrupted fuel supplies on the East Coast. A ransomware attack is a cyber-attack that encrypts the victim's files and demands a ransom to decrypt the files.  If the victim does not pay the ransom, the hackers threaten to leak the data.

Colonial Pipeline Company, which transports roughly 45 percent of all gasoline and diesel consumed on the east coast, was forced to halt operations last week due to the attack. Cyber-attacks, and the halt in building the Keystone XL pipeline, have brought additional challenges to the supply line resulting in long lines at many gas stations and higher prices at the pumps for consumers.

The federal government must improve its cyber warfare techniques, training, proactive and reactive capabilities, and coordination with the private sector, or else such activities from bad actors will continue to harm our economy and our national security.

Behind The Numbers

The results highlight Americans' concerns about cybersecurity.  These numbers are not surprising. A few years ago, Yahoo revealed that three billion of its user's login information fell victim to cyber theft. That is pretty much every Yahoo account. It's highly likely that if one has not been directly affected, you know of someone who has.

A majority also think that the situation surrounding cyberattacks and cybercrimes in the U.S. is getting worse.

Cybersecurity concerns increase with age.

What's Being Stolen?

Around one-quarter (26 percent) of Americans report having had some form of personal information stolen or compromised by hackers or cybercriminals in the last year, while 64 percent have not.

Credit or debit card information is the most commonly reported type of personal data stolen or compromised, at 12 percent, followed by email account information (10 percent) and social media account information (9 percent). Just under one in ten have had their bank account information (7 percent) or Social Security number (6 percent) breached. No other information type garnered more than five percent in the poll.

Is Enough Being Done?

In a TIPP Poll conducted last fall, 48% of Americans felt the federal government is doing too little to protect businesses from cyber-attacks. Americans believe that the federal government can do more to help protect businesses from cybersecurity threats.

Mark Pfeifle was deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and global outreach from 2007 to 2009. He led the effort to promote President George W. Bush's "surge" of U.S. forces in Iraq.


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TIPP Takes

COVID-19 Lab Leak Theory Cannot Be Ruled Out, Leading Scientists Say

  • The origin of the novel coronavirus is still unknown, according to a group of leading scientists. The theory that it was caused by a laboratory leak should be taken seriously until a thorough data-driven investigation proves it incorrect.
  • COVID-19, which first appeared in China in late 2019, has killed 3.34 million people, cost the world trillions of dollars in lost income, and disrupted the lives of billions of people.
  • "More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic," said the 18 scientists, including Ravindra Gupta, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, and Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
  • In its final report, a WHO-led team that spent four weeks in and around Wuhan in January and February concluded that the virus was most likely transmitted from bats to humans via another animal and that a lab leak was "extremely unlikely" as a cause.
  • However, there are numerous theories about the virus's origins, including several conspiracy theories.
  • "We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data," the scientists said, adding that an intellectually rigorous and dispassionate investigation needed to take place.

U.S. Will Not Leave Australia Alone To Face China Coercion - Blinken

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that the U.S. would not abandon Australia in the face of Chinese economic coercion. Such behavior toward U.S. allies would impede progress in US-Sino relations.
  • Washington has repeatedly criticized Beijing's alleged attempts to bully neighbors with competing interests. President Joe Biden has sought to strengthen ties with Indo-Pacific allies to counter China's growing power.
  • "I reiterated that the U.S. will not leave Australia alone on the field, or perhaps I should say alone on the pitch, in the face of Chinese economic coercion," Blinken said at a press conference with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
  • "And we've made it clear to the PRC that such actions against our closest partners and allies will stymie improvements in our own relationship with China," Blinken said.
  • As tensions between the two countries have risen in recent years, China has imposed a slew of trade sanctions on Australian exports ranging from wine to coal.

Uyghur Imams Targeted In China's Xinjiang Crackdown

  • According to new research by a Uyghur rights group, China has imprisoned or detained at least 630 imams and other Muslim religious figures since 2014 in its crackdown in the Xinjiang region.
  • Extremism charges were being issued on a "flimsy legal basis" in Xinjiang for "offenses that shouldn't even qualify as offenses," said Donald Clarke, a professor at George Washington University who specializes in Chinese law.
  • While authorities reportedly detained 1,046 clerics at some point, the punishments reflect the harsh nature of Xinjiang justice: 96% sentenced to at least five years and 26% to 20 years or more, including 14 life sentences.
  • Targeting the Turkic ethnic groups in north-western China is not a new phenomenon. Muslim minorities suffered long periods of repression between the 1950s and 1970s when Qurans were burned, mosques and cemeteries desecrated, and traditional dress and hairstyles prohibited.
  • According to Chinese government data, criminal arrests in Xinjiang accounted for 21% of the country's total in 2017, despite the region having about 1.5% of the population.

Sputnik V To Be Available In Indian Markets By Next Week

  • Local production would begin in July, with Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy's Laboratories manufacturing the vaccine.
  • With an efficacy of 91.6%, as published in the Lancet Medical Journal, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has signed a deal to produce 750 million doses of Sputnik V in India.
  • The Health Ministry said that as part of its policy to augment the domestic production of the Covid-19 vaccine, it has proactively encouraged Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and private companies to enter into technology transfer agreements with Indian vaccine manufacturers.
  • Sputnik V was given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in April and was first approved in Russia last year.

Italy Fines Google €100 Million For Shutting Out Rival's Smartphone App

  • Italy's anti-trust authority said Thursday it had fined Google more than 100 million euros ($120mn) for shutting out a rival's smartphone app offering recharging of electric vehicles.
  • The authority said Google, whose Android operating system and Google Play app store dominate the Italian market, had abused its market position by blocking an Enel X app for users of electric vehicles.
  • The regulator added it would require Google to make Enel X's app available on Android Auto, which mirrors features of an Android device, such as a smartphone, on a car dashboard screen.
  • Italy found Google did not allow Enel X Italia to develop an Android Auto-compatible version of its JuicePass app.
  • JuicePass offers services relating to recharging electric vehicles, such as finding the nearest charging station and reserving a space there.

Why Colombian Protesters Are Taking To The Streets

  • The ongoing protests reveal how economically vulnerable most of Colombia's population is. But the grievances run much deeper than that.
  • For the past two weeks, mass protests have rocked Colombia, leaving at least 42 people dead and hundreds injured.
  • A change to tax law presented by President Ivan Duque is the trigger of the protests.
  • Although some economists say Colombia needs changes to tax law, people from diverse segments of society have spilled into the streets to voice their disapproval.
  • The minimum wage in Colombia is about 940,000 pesos (€210/$250) per month. But people living in extreme poverty make as little as 145,000 pesos.
  • Besides the gaping inequality in the country — Colombia is one of the unequal countries in Latin America — there are other persistent issues: a lack of opportunities, structural racism, and the government's military actions.

Uganda Startup Makes Carpets From Banana Residues

  • Ugandans eat a lot of bananas. A local startup believes it can extract more benefits from plant parts that most people dismiss as worthless.
  • TexFad uses natural banana fibers to produce environmentally friendly materials such as carpets and biodegradable hair links. TexFad is extracting the fibers from parts of the trunks that farmers usually burn or throw away.
  • The company is also testing a process to make banana fibers as soft as cotton to produce clothes.
  • They expect to export carpets for the first time in June to customers in the United States, Britain, and Canada.

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