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Most Americans Support Internet ‘Kill Switch’ Authority for President

Photo: Jason Zack

A majority of Americans believe the president should have the authority to shut down parts of the Internet in the event of a coordinated cyber attack, according to a report by the Unisys Corporation.

The results come as a cybersecurity bill, which would give the president broader authority to handle cyber threats, remains stalled in Congress. The report’s findings suggest Americans may actually support giving the president the authority to hit the “kill switch” on the Internet, which has often been likened to – and even romanticized as – a sort of regulatory wild, wild West.

“A majority of the American population is willing to grant the president the authority to cut short their Internet access to protect both U.S. assets and citizens, suggesting that the public is taking cyber warfare very seriously,” said Patricia Titus, Unisys vice president and chief information security officer.

Americans may be more willing to give the president such authority because recent, high-profile cyber attacks, such as the Stuxnet worm may have caused more people to tune into the cyber threat.

The Unisys report also raises other security concerns, most involving mobile devices, which the report says may be a “hole in American defenses.”

For example, only a little more than a third of U.S. Internet users regularly use and update their passwords on mobile devices, which could create a “potentially huge security hole for organizations as more consumer devices invade the workplace.”

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