Is the Internet "kill switch" a good idea?

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Should the President of the United States be granted the power to flip an Internet "kill switch" in the event of a coordinated cyber offensive?

Well, 60% of Americans apparently believe that the POTUS should be permitted to shut down wide swathes of the 'Net during a digital attack.

"A majority of the American population is willing to grant the President the authority to cut short their Internet access to protect both US assets and citizens, suggesting that the public is taking cyber warfare very seriously," explained Unisys chief information security officer Patricia Titus. 



Is the Internet "kill switch" a good idea?"Our [recent] survey shows that the American public recognizes the danger of a cyber attack and wants the federal government to take an active role in extending the nation's cyber defense.

"It will [clearly] be up to officials in all branches of the federal government to respond to this call to action in a way that is measured and well planned."



Titus also noted that most Americans are surprisingly proactive about protecting themselves from cyber crime and identity theft.

To be sure, more than three-quarters (80%) of Americans regularly limit access to personal information posted to social media sites and make use of privacy settings, while 73% regularly update antivirus software.



Nevertheless, the majority of Americans surveyed were found to be neglecting other important aspects of cyber security, particularly related to their use of consumer electronic devices. 

For example, only 37% regularly use and update passwords on their mobile devices.

Similarly, less than half of US Internet surfers (46%) use and frequently change hard-to-guess passwords on their computers.

"As millions of consumer devices such as mobile phones continue to penetrate the workplace, the survey's finding on consumers' inattention to securing mobile devices should serve as a wake-up call for consumers and enterprises to actively pursue measures to protect the information exchanged with and residing on these devices," said Mark Cohn, VP of enterprise security for Unisys.

"Enterprises, as well as the manufacturers of mobile devices, should take steps to ensure that sensitive data protection is enabled by default and is as simple and convenient as possible."