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Most Americans Support an Internet Kill Switch 398

Posted by samzenpus
from the please-take-my-freedoms-I-don't-deserve-them dept.
Orome1 writes "Sixty-one percent of Americans said the President should have the ability to shut down portions of the Internet in the event of a coordinated malicious cyber attack, according to research by Unisys. The survey found that while Americans are taking proactive steps to protect themselves against cybercrime and identity theft, only slightly more than a third of Internet users in the US regularly use and update passwords on their mobile devices – creating a potentially huge security hole for organizations as more consumer devices invade the workplace. The findings illustrate that recent events such as the Stuxnet computer worm attack and the attempted Times Square car bombing may have heightened the American public's awareness of and concern over global and domestic cybersecurity threats."
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Most Americans Support an Internet Kill Switch

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  • Most Americans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countertrolling (1585477) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:53PM (#34041610) Journal

    should be more careful what they wish for

    • Re:Most Americans (Score:4, Insightful)

      by saider (177166) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:03PM (#34041754)

      I agree. They probably think that stopping Chinese hackers means disconnecting the connection to China. They do not realize that it is their (our) computers that are doing the attacking and that the internet kill switch will interrupt their eBaying and porn surfing.

    • Re:Most Americans (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chemicaldave (1776600) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:08PM (#34041840)
      Most Americans' understanding of the Internet is likely limited to email, social networking, and Youtube. They probably hold a poor grasp of how the Internet works. Furthermore, the definition and scope of an "Internet kill switch" are unclear.

      I'm actually surprised at how low the poll results are.

  • In some ways... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nebaz (453974) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:54PM (#34041622)

    I'm glad that the US isn't a direct democracy.

    • Re:In some ways... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:06PM (#34041818) Journal

      How in the world is this troll? We are not a direct democracy PRECISELY type for this reason. Someone needs to brush up on their Civics class...

    • Beware the idea of keeping the people out the real decisions because they are too dumb or inexperienced: getting people dumbed down and their lowest instincts tickled so that an elite can rule over them with the praetext of protecting society from itself becomes feasible.

      I dunno how it would end up for national security.
      But for money policies we left the matter to central banks so we could have stability and dunno what else, and debt became widespread, money rules de facto over law, insolvent banks compete

      • Re:In some ways... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:29PM (#34042100) Journal

        A Democracy allows you to execute a man with a simple majority vote. No need to prove guilt. It's a tyranny. It's what happened to Socrates.

        Rule by Law, like our Constitution, is preferable.
        Now we just need to enforce it rather than ignore it.

      • Re:In some ways... (Score:4, Informative)

        by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @05:35PM (#34043056) Journal

        Beware the idea of keeping the people out the real decisions because they are too dumb or inexperienced: getting people dumbed down and their lowest instincts tickled so that an elite can rule over them with the praetext of protecting society from itself becomes feasible.

        One word: California. The place where they vote ballot measures to jack up spending (usually on "get tough on crime" crusades), and suppress taxes at the same time. Then they wonder why they spend so much of their income servicing debt. They have voted on measures that make it impossible for legislators to pass a budget. And who do they blame for the gridlock in the state Capitol? The legislators!

        Direct democracy is the greatest threat to civilisation. Californian voters need a good slap upside the head, told to eat what's put in front of them, and stop acting like the childish entitlement merchants they are. California doesn't need more direct democracy, it needs a king. The state is an example of democracy run amok.

        I dunno how it would end up for national security.
        But for money policies we left the matter to central banks so we could have stability and dunno what else, and debt became widespread, money rules de facto over law, insolvent banks compete with their fractional reserve in the same league of your hard earned money. Not the best deal.

        Central banks are accountable to their respective legislators. In Britain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the finance minister) used to have direct control of interest rates. It was a disaster because the government kept fiddling interest rates for party political reasons, usually around election time. It doesn't take a genius to guess what that led to. Stability was greatly improved when that was delegated to the Bank of England.

    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @05:30PM (#34042996)

      Holy crap - someone used the distinction between a direct democracy and a republic or representative democracy in the correct context and to provide topical commentary. Color me shocked.

  • by Nidi62 (1525137)
    Really? Hunh. They never even asked me.
  • by rs1n (1867908) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:55PM (#34041642)
    A killswitch means we no longer get instantaneous information, either, should we have to use it. Cell phones don't necessarily reach all parts of the world. I'm not so sure I'm willing to give up being able to get news right as it happens just because of threat of cyberwar. People can unhook their own machines from the net -- that's fine. That's the last line of defense that anyone can implement for themselves. Just don't cut me off because you feel it protects you better.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "A killswitch means we no longer get instantaneous information, either, should we have to use it."

      Amateur Radio, the original geek hobby, still exists. Packet radio for teh (slow baud rate) win!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:56PM (#34041670)

    ...to protect us from democracy.

  • Honest Results? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Venzor (1929328) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:57PM (#34041682)
    From TFA:

    "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, VP and CISO, Unisys. "Our 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 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."

    I suspect selective polling, ambiguous questions, and/or selective interpretation of the results. I really wish they'd post the surveys' actual results, scope of participants, etc. for these kinds of things.

  • Obligatory question (Score:2, Informative)

    by bonch (38532)

    Sure...give the government an internet kill switch. What could possibly go wrong?

  • by lavagolemking (1352431) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:58PM (#34041698)
    What's really sad is that the survey is probably at least close to accurate. There are so many people out there today who think they can get some "real justice" if they give up their rights to "fight terrorism" that I am having a hard time tearing apart the article.
    • The findings illustrate that recent events such as the Stuxnet computer worm attack and the attempted Times Square car bombing may have heightened the American public's awareness of and concern over global and domestic cybersecurity threats.

      Sure, because most members of the American public have heard of Stuxnet, and know that it incorporated multiple vulns on multiple devices/OSes, and was targeting Iranian nuke facilities. Puhleeeese.

  • by gratuitous_arp (1650741) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:58PM (#34041700)

    from the please-take-my-freedoms-I-don't-deserve-them dept.

    Not much more to say.

  • Sad truths (Score:3, Informative)

    by Apothem (1921856) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:59PM (#34041714)
    I suppose a lot of this comes from the fact that not EVERYONE is aware of what a killswitch would even mean. If you think about how much people overall understand the internet, the majority of people out there probably just assumed it would be nice to have. It is very unfortunate that we live in such an age where ignorance is more dangerous than anything else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by redhog (15207)
      Hasn't that always been the case??
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      I suppose a lot of this comes from the fact that not EVERYONE is aware of what a killswitch would even mean. If you think about how much people overall understand the internet, the majority of people out there probably just assumed it would be nice to have. It is very unfortunate that we live in such an age where ignorance is more dangerous than anything else.

      I believe this is more of 69% "don't know what the killswitch is". So they think that in the event of an attack, hitting the killswitch will magically

    • And the kill switch will keep them ignorant just when they need the information.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642)

      I suppose a lot of this comes from the fact that not EVERYONE is aware of what a killswitch would even mean.

      I've been on the net since 92 and in the biz since 97 and I have utterly no idea what it means.

      Do they mean the fedgov would inject a 0/0 route into BGP? Morons used to do that occasionally so I have prefix lists to filter them out.

      To they mean getting the biggest "tier 1" ISPs in the DFZ to ... "shut off" or whatever? Those guys can just barely, on a good day, eventually coordinate a simple router software update in a day or two. OK, thats not me and I have plenty of peering at the local NAPs.

      Its like t

  • by hypernation (1900922) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:01PM (#34041728)
    This would never be abused, would it?
  • Most people have no idea of what it is, nor have the vast majority of the American public even heard about it let alone taken the time to become educated about it.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:07PM (#34041830) Homepage

    Arguably, we should have some emergency controls for the Internet. I'd suggest that the following emergency systems be implemented:

    • Mail servers forward only text email, stripping all MIME content. Useful in case of serious virus trouble.
    • Cell phone switches handle voice and SMS messages only. Maybe raw pictures on some platforms. No downloads, no "apps", no tethering, no IP.
    • Under severe overload conditions during a cyber-attack, the FCC should be able to order an advertising shutdown. All advertising servers must go offline until the emergency is over.
    • All this should be publicly tested occasionally, like the Emergency Broadcast System.

    This would be enough to deal with serious overloads, outages, or viruses, but doesn't have censorship implications.

    • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:28PM (#34042080) Homepage Journal

      Any time the government is in control, there is a censorship issue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by forkazoo (138186)

      Mail servers forward only text email, stripping all MIME content. Useful in case of serious virus trouble.

      Cell phone switches handle voice and SMS messages only. Maybe raw pictures on some platforms. No downloads, no "apps", no tethering, no IP.

      Under severe overload conditions during a cyber-attack, the FCC should be able to order an advertising shutdown. All advertising servers must go offline until the emergency is over.

      All this should be publicly tested occasionally, like the Emergency Broadcast System.

      This would be enough to deal with serious overloads, outages, or viruses, but doesn't have censorship implications.

      #1 - Can I have that now?
      #2 - So, in the event of a major telecoms emergency, make sure people can't download security updates for their phones? And make sure that I can't ssh into my servers to fix them from wherever I am ASAP? And make sure I have to tie up bandwidth voice calling 30 people instead of just sending an email explaining how to fix things?
      #3 - Advertising shutdown would mean that some sites that depend on advertising revenue to stay up would be at danger of collapse. Collapse is sometimes

  • I am all for it as long as they do not touch my Facebook.
  • by Dalzhim (1588707) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:08PM (#34041842)

    ... that the design principle at the foundation of the Internet should be re-engineered. The Internet was meant to be a means of communication that couldn't be severed easily.

    • by darkuncle (4925) <darkuncle@d[ ]uncle.net ['ark' in gap]> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @05:24PM (#34042914) Homepage

      THIS. the very concept of an "Internet killswitch" is nonsense on the face of it. Think about it: what, exactly, will the President shut off? MAE-EAST? Google datacenters? Sprint core routers? Facebook webservers? All of Comcast's residential netblocks? Undersea fiber between San Francisco and Australia? The most fundamental aspect of the Internet is its decentralization, designed specifically to PREVENT any single entity from shutting down the network. The entire discussion consists of uninformed blathering from morons and those who hope to make a truckload of money selling them nonsense solutions.

  • by adamjcoon (1583361)
    IMHO,
    61% << "Most"...

    61% ~= "Not quite two-thirds"
  • Poor reporting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demonbug (309515) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:09PM (#34041864) Journal

    When are reporters going to learn that they need to include the actual wording of the question posed in the poll for people to actually understand what was asked? From what little information is in the article, there is a wide gamut of ways the question might have been posed that would affect the outcome. Why, oh why, can't they learn to include the actual question in addition to their canned analysis of the results? 100% of Americans think that the linked article is useless (plus or minus 99.99997%).

    • When are reporters going to learn that they need to include the actual wording of the question posed in the poll for people to actually understand what was asked?

      Even that is not enough. Different people interpret questions differently depending on their own circumstances. Here's a trivial example - ask a question about "coke" and in some parts of the USA many people will think you are talking about sodas in general, not just coca-cola. The discrepancies get even wider when you ask a question of people in a foreign country but try to interpret their answers in the context of your own country.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by baKanale (830108)

      Leaving out the question allows them to shape the story to their own will, generate more controversy (and thus more viewers/readers), and twist facts support a particular agenda. They won't learn to include the question because they learned not to, as it gives them a greater advantage.

  • Unisys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dotren (1449427) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:09PM (#34041870)

    Should I be surprised that Unisys [wikipedia.org], a corporation which describes itself as selling IT solutions to "governments around the world" [unisys.com], comes up with a survey result that shows a "majority" of Americans support a possible government program that would likely see the government purchasing a large amount of product from Unisys?

  • USA don't own internet. Is a global thing.

    If USA want to disable free information disemination in a disaster, can plug the cable on his "house", but sould not touch other countries free roam of information. Is not USA what have to decide that.

    • The USA did invent the Internet and hosts a HUGE portion of the content. Still, you're right, and should be able to reach all the local and other non-USA hosted sites while we (the USA) shuts it off temporarily. Do not fear, the porn will be back online shortly thereafter. Gambling sites, malware distribution hosts, and the other localized content should remain available through locally cached DNS entries. Sorry for any inconvenience!

  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:12PM (#34041912) Homepage
    should not go up for a vote by "most americans." I've worked helpdesk and computer systems engineering my entire career, and can assure you the very same person who uses his cdrom as a cupholder and assumes clickjacking to be some sort of fetish, cant possibly imagine what a cyber attack is outside of what the last die hard movie and 4 iterations of the terminator movie franchise have taught him. In addition, many americans dont understand the internet was designed during the cold war...by its very definition and design, killing it with a single point of activation should not be possible. Lastly, America has been handling cyber-attacks the same way it has since the inception of the internet, with skilled engineers and administrators operating re actively and proactively to situations as they arise and can be anticipated.

    I cant in good conscience subscribe to the hullabaloo that is the "cyber attack" and i dont encourage slashdotters to either. Its present definition is as laughable as the options for defense and solution to its ire. I may be speaking controversially, however i also feel this is just one more scientific field in which americans are poorly equipped to think critically of and seem to be told to just appreciate that fact. In relation, if a majority of americans refute or deny such scientific concepts such as climate change and evolution, what makes them the least bit qualified to comment on more modern technology?
    • But it is easy to kill now. Once the core routers and DNS servers are down. Game over for most users. The critical infrastruct on how computers "know" which IP address to get and how to get there has been gradually centralised over the last couple of decades in the name of efficiency and easy of management. Yeah! sure there will be cached infromation and backup servers, but the Internet has long ago morphed from being a Web to a Tree like structure. Killing the root, kills the tree.
  • Wait a sec... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kingramon0 (411815) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:15PM (#34041938) Homepage

    Sooo.... We want to stop a malicious DOS attack on the Internet by... DOSing the Internet?

    Brilliant!

  • Let's put aside the ramifications of giving the President this power and just consider the hypothetical situation. A server is being bombarded by requests, or there's a malicious attack, or whatever. Wouldn't the administrators be smart enough to just pull the server off the network for a while until they get the system under control? You know, remove connections to the outside Internet, physical or otherwise. It's just a cable or configuration setting away.

    It seems to me something you'd notice and g
  • by anyGould (1295481) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:20PM (#34041998)

    Since the internet, by design, is built to route around damage (and taking "portions" offline would count), wouldn't the only real way to prevent an attack be to remove either the source or destination computers from the network?

    And removing the destination system would by far be the simplest and least disruptive way to do it. (At least until you track down the source computer).

  • 61% of American's can't locate Iraq on a map. (Actually its probably higher, but I had to make something up ;)
  • ... without mentioning the possible benefit of stopping Skynet when it attempts to take over?

  • If the nukes the "terrists" have planted on U.S. soil can't ping one another through the net... they go off.

    Who was the fucktard who came up with this piece of brilliance?

  • I don't have a theoretical objection to a "kill switch" that'd take the nation offline (to the extent that that's even feasable), but I'm not sure such a thing would be useful - the harm in taking our networks down would probably outweigh almost anything but complete loss of network functionality - the internet is almost as fundamental as roads for our society and economy.

    I'm curious how community peer networking would change were the internet down for awhile.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:40PM (#34042232)

    "You've got to remember, that these are just simple farmers, these are people of the land, the common clay of the new west. You know . . . morons."

  • by soren100 (63191) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:42PM (#34042264)

    If you google 'Unisys', the first result is an article saying that Profit Tanks at Unisys Corporation [zacks.com]

    Apparently their year-over-year profits are down 54%, to $21 million from over $50 million a year ago, and their Technology sector revenue declined 31%. Apparently this is driven by a lack of demand for their ClearPath server line.

    So by pumping this 'intenet kill switch' idea, it may be that they expect to be first in line to implement it, and get some handsome profits from the taxpayer pie in the bargain.

    This is about as believable as Bill Gates and other tech leaders trumpeting that there were not enough skilled US IT workers a few years back. Sure there were, just not at the immigrant prices that Gates and others wanted to pay. Here's a video from a recruiter seminar instructing recruiters on how not to find qualified American applicants for jobs [youtube.com] while putting in the legally required advertisements. Look for the speaker stating at about 1:44 into the video that "our goal here is clearly not to find a qualified and interested US worker".

    Of course corporations are going to release self-serving announcements like this -- it's just fulfilling their legal mandate to act in the best interests of their shareholders. In other news, the sky is blue.

  • by TheRecklessWanderer (929556) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @05:07PM (#34042654) Journal
    Most interneters support an American kill switch
  • Bullshit. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @06:50PM (#34043762)

    This is total nonsense written on some corporate blog I've never heard of before.

    I remember a survey which said that only around 30% of Americans even trusted the sitting president, so how does this nonsense survey stack up against that?

    It's all garbage.

    They're going to kill the web when it matters, and this is just sales spin to stop Americans from doing what the French are currently doing; forcing their government to do what the hell they tell it to rather than whatever evil, selfish shit it wants to do.

    What a concept! A government held accountable by the people! Horrors!

    No wonder Bush hated the French. They're not brain-dazed lightweights who let their government rob them blind without lifting a finger.

    -FL

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