Americans Willing to Spend More to Thwart Cyber Attacks: Survey
Technology Editor, CNBC.com
The majority of Americans fear the U.S. will either become the the victim of a major cyber attack, or target another country with cyber weapons during the next ten years, according to a recent survey.
In fact, Americans fear a U.S. attack so much that they're even willing to increase government spending to prevent such a threat.
The survey, commissioned by cyber security firm Tenable Network Security, also revealed one of the biggest concerns among Americans is a cyber attack on critical infrastructure. About 92 percent of Americans believe public utilities are vulnerable to state-sponsored cyber attacks, according to the report.
(Read More: Execs Say Cyber-Attacks a Top Threat: AIG Survey)
While Americans who responded to the survey fear an attack on public utilities during the next several years, an eye opening cyber threat to communication infrastructure and transportation in the near term is more likely, said Ron Gula, CEO of Tenable Network and former cyber security for the National Security Agency.
"There will be some sort of incident, not necessarily an attack on critical infrastructure, but some media moment and cyber security is going to get magnified ... I think it's going to happen this year, because people are looking for it," Gula said. "Something will happen, I don't know exactly what, but it will get everyone's attention."
Recent cyber attacks on media outlets and platforms—such as The the New York Times, the Washington Post and Twitter—along with the attack on the Federal Reserve and financial institutions late last year, have highlighted how imminent cyber warfare is for America, Gula said.
(Read More: Fed Says Internal Site Breached by Hackers)
Americans Willing to Spend More to Avert Threats
According to the survey, 60 percent of respondents said they would be in favor of increasing government spending to train "cyber warriors" to defend the U.S. from attacks. In addition, 94 percent said that the president should have the same level of authority to react to cyber attacks as he does when the country is physically attacked.
However, while many of the respondents wanted to boost defense spending to thwart cyber attacks, there were some conflicting views about where the responsibility for cyber breaches lies.
According to the survey, 66 percent of participants believe corporations should be accountable for cyber attacks when they occur, whereas 62 percent said the government should be responsible for protecting U.S. businesses from cyber threats.
(Read More: Microsoft, Symantec Bust Major Cyber Crime Ring)
President Barack Obama issued an executive order to improve the nation's cyber security Tuesday, which advanced communication about cyber threats between the federal government and the private sector. The order sets standards that will help defend against cyber threats, but it's important businesses do more than just meet the bare requirements, Gula said.
"Baselines are a good place to start, but they shouldn't be your finish line," he said. "If you are reading this and you are in corporate America, you are on the front lines, you need to be doing something."
(Read More: 5 Tips for Protecting Your Business From a Cyber Attack )