Poll: Americans Concerned About Hacks

Most Americans are concerned about hacks into US computer systems and see China and Russia as the top threats, according to a survey.

A survey by the Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center shows that nearly 9 in 10 Americans are in some way concerned about cyberattacks on their personal information, financial institutions, government agencies, or certain public services. Two-thirds are very or extremely concerned.

75% believe that China and Russia are major threats to the US government’s technological security, and at least half also see Iran and non-governmental organizations as a threat.

President Joe Biden has made cybersecurity a key issue in his administration, and lawmakers are considering initiatives to strengthen public and private digital security. The survey comes amid a wave of high-profile ransomware attacks and cyber espionage campaigns in the past year that have compromised sensitive government records and resulted in the suspension of power operations, in hospitals, schools and others.

The explosion in the last year of ransomware, where hackers encrypt an organization’s data and demand payment to decrypt it, has highlighted how extortionist hacker gangs can disrupt the economy and put lives and livelihoods at risk.

The criminal groups that dominate the ransomware business are mostly Russian-speaking and operate with near impunity outside of Russia or its allied countries. The United States also blames Russian spies for a major hack of its government agencies known as SolarWinds, named for the American software company whose product was used in the hack.

China has also been active. In July, the Biden administration formally blamed the Asian country for a massive attack on the Microsoft Exchange email server and claimed that hackers associated with the Chinese government have carried out ransomware attacks and other illicit digital operations.

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Both Russia and China deny the allegations.

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