By Jeff Seldin
Cyber-attacks on elections, public infrastructure, and national security are increasingly the new normal, according to a worldwide survey on cybersecurity.
And in some of the world’s largest economies, people think their governments are not prepared.
The survey of more than 27,000 people across 26 countries conducted by the Pew Research Center found less than half of the respondents, 47 percent, believed their countries are ready to handle a significant cyber incident.
A median of 74 percent thought it was likely national security information would be accessed. Sixty-nine percent said they expected public infrastructure to be damaged. And 61 percent expected cyber-attacks targeting their country’s elections.
Israel and Russia ranked as among the most certain populations, with more than two-thirds of survey-takers in those countries saying their governments are prepared for a significant cyber incident.
The three sub-Saharan African countries in the survey — Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa — were generally optimistic, with more than half of those polled saying their nations were prepared for a cyber incident.
Brazil and Argentina were the least confident, with just nine percent of Argentineans responding their government was prepared.
In key economies such as Germany and Japan, more than half of the respondents expressed concern they were ill-prepared to deal with cyber-attacks.
The Pew survey found expectations for cyberattacks ran highest in the United States, where there have been more than 100 major cyber incidents since 2006.
Almost 80 percent of U.S. respondents expected damage to public infrastructure, breaches of national security information and elections tampering.
But while more Americans than not say the country is prepared for cyber-attacks, 53 percent to 43 percent, feelings on cyber-preparedness changed depending on political affiliation.
More than 60 percent of Republicans thought the United States is prepared for cyber-attacks as opposed to 47 percent of Democrats.
The Pew survey detected similar trends in many of the other countries in the investigation.
In Russia, for example, about 75 percent of those who support President Vladimir Putin is optimistic about handling a cyber-attack, compared to 61 percent of non-Putin supporters.
The level of concern about cyber-attacks also varied according to age.
In many of the Western countries surveyed, Pew found older people were likely to be more concerned than younger people.
In Sweden, for example, 82 percent of those aged 50 or older feared a cyber-attack on infrastructure, compared with 53 percent of those aged 18 to 29.
The Pew survey was conducted in-person or via telephone between May 14 and August 12, 2018.
The 26 countries surveyed are: United States, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Britain, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Israel, Tunisia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.
About the Author: