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President Should Have 'Kill Switch' For Internet, Most Americans Say

Worries of Internet security rank below financial, personal, and national security among people worldwide surveyed by Unisys

More than 60 percent of Americans say if a major cyberattack were to occur on the Internet, the president should have the capability to shut down parts of the network, according to a new survey.

Around 80 percent of Americans also say they are limiting access to their personal information and using privacy settings on Facebook and other social media, and 73 percent are keeping their antivirus up-to-date. But they are less vigilant about their mobile devices, with only 37 percent password-protecting these devices, according to Unisys' Security Index survey for the second half of 2010, released this week. And about 46 percent of these users regularly update and use strong passwords for their desktop machines.

"With only 37 percent using passwords on mobile devices, it's probably because people are looking for convenience," says Patricia Titus, vice president and chief information security officer at Unisys. "People are not applying the same security practices to mobile devices as they do to PCs and laptops. And in some instances, these [mobile devices] are more powerful."

As for the "kill switch" support, Titus says respondents could be interpreting what that might entail in different ways. "They might not be thinking about what the implications would mean .. they might be thinking of him blocking a particular country [or attackers]," she says.

Most Americans are less concerned about the security of their online transactions than they are about identity theft. Those who said they are "seriously concerned" about online shopping and online banking security declined from 43 percent in February to 34 percent in August, according to the survey.

Overall, people worldwide are less worried about their security in all categories, with a 125 rating versus 151 in the second half of 2007, when Unisys first launched the survey.

More than half of Americans are "extremely" or "very" worried about national security of the country, 57 percent about identity theft, and 57 percent about credit card and debit card fraud. There were more than 1,000 respondents to the survey.

A full copy of the index is available here for download.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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