Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Security The Internet United States News IT

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Most Americans Support an Internet Kill Switch

Comments Filter:
  • by milonssecretsn (1392667) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:52PM (#34041588)

    . . . are idiots.

  • This just in. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by bhcompy (1877290) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:53PM (#34041602)
    61% of Americans need to be cockpunched. Thoroughly.
  • Most Americans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countertrolling (1585477) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:53PM (#34041610) Journal

    should be more careful what they wish for

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

    by nebaz (453974) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:54PM (#34041622)

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

  • by rs1n (1867908) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:55PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:56PM (#34041670)

    ...to protect us from democracy.

  • Honest Results? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Venzor (1929328) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:57PM (#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.

  • by lavagolemking (1352431) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:58PM (#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.
  • by gratuitous_arp (1650741) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:58PM (#34041700)

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

    Not much more to say.

  • by hypernation (1900922) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:01PM (#34041728)
    This would never be abused, would it?
  • Re:Most Americans (Score:4, Insightful)

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

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:03PM (#34041758)

    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.

    And 39% think that during an "attack" the President should NOT be able to shut down the route used by the attackers.

    I'm thinking that that 39% include the people who understand that "cyber attack" is a meaningless term and that no authority should be granted on the basis of a meaningless term.

    Here, try this instead:

    Sixty-one percent of Americans said the President should have the ability to shut down portions of FaceBook in the event of a coordinated malicious FaceBook attack, according to research by Unisys.

    If it makes as much sense as the original then there is a problem.

  • by clarkn0va (807617) <apt.get@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:05PM (#34041802) Homepage

    Nay, but most Americans have no idea about computers, let alone computer security.

    This is not a question of computers or security so much as it is a question of the freedom of information, communication, expression and speech. Perhaps the propaganda machine has convinced the American public otherwise.

  • by JonySuede (1908576) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:05PM (#34041806) Journal

    the Internet was liberated and experimental from scratch, you must not be on the same Internet as I am because as time goes I only see more restriction and more commercialization ...

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:06PM (#34041812)
    More liberated and experimental? Friend, that's what it was. The internet is becoming more staid, regulated, etc. It's becoming more conservative as it becomes more mainstream. People who wouldn't have touched it a decade ago now use it every day, and that's changing the culture of the internet and the way all of society perceives it. However to boomers and older it's something that "we" can obviously do without, because they didn't need it when they were growing up, so who cares? It's just a toy to them. They may casually participate in it, but they cannot (broadly and generally) understand its real importance to contemporary and future society.
  • Re:Sad truths (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redhog (15207) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:07PM (#34041826) Homepage
    Hasn't that always been the case??
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:07PM (#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.

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

    by chemicaldave (1776600) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:08PM (#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.

  • by adamjcoon (1583361) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:09PM (#34041858)
    IMHO,
    61% << "Most"...

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

    by demonbug (309515) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:09PM (#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%).

  • Unisys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dotren (1449427) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:09PM (#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?

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:10PM (#34041882)

    Or:

    "The President should have the ability to shut down Google in the event of a coordinated malicious cyber attack on irs.gov."

    or:

    "In the case of a malcious DDoS attack the President will assist with the mother of all DoS attacks."

  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:12PM (#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?
  • Wait a sec... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kingramon0 (411815) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:15PM (#34041938) Homepage

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

    Brilliant!

  • Re:This just in. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:18PM (#34041976) Homepage

    61% may need to use their brain more. That doesn't mean they have said device with which to satisfy that need.

  • by anyGould (1295481) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:20PM (#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).

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:20PM (#34042008)

    What?

    39% of Americans say they regularly get news from a cable channel.

    Only 40% of Republicans regularly watch Fox News.

    I'm sure you were just trying to make a point... but when your point hinges on more than 50% of Americans getting their news from FN and thus are stupid, and it's not even close to 50% ... the point seems to kinda fall apart? :)

  • Re:This just in. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:20PM (#34042016) Journal

    The results are a reflection of how the question was asked. If they ahd asked:

    "Do you support the president having a kill switch to remove Websites that post articles criticizing the president or the government?" The result would probably be just 10-20% in favor.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:26PM (#34042070)

    And English, or French, or Asians somehow have special knowledge the excludes them from this group? Really?

    They are not addicted to the viewpoint "if its not in The Bible, I don't need to know it".

    Not so much a gain of "special knowledge" as a lack of "special knowledge"

  • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:28PM (#34042080) Homepage Journal

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

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

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:29PM (#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.

  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:29PM (#34042106) Journal

    most probably had no fucking clue what was being asked

    I suspect you got that right. They would not realize that the "kill switch" probably (i) would cut the US from the internet, but leave the rest of the world largely connected, (ii) would have to disconnect US segments from one another, because a cyberattack would be hosted as much inside the US as outside, (iii) would severely hamper communication inside the US and between the US and the rest of the world, leaving official propaganda supreme in the US, (iv) would cripple commerce and logistics inside the US, but not so much in the rest of the world. And so forth.
    Of course, many people may have thought that the "kill switch" would take down the internet in specific evil places outside the US, while leaving it intact in the US and nice friendly countries. If such a thing were possible, you can be sure that the nasty places will also have the same capability, which would render it useless to a US president, since the US is probably more vulnerable to economic, social, and political disruption by loss of internet communication than most other countries.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:30PM (#34042116) Journal

    actually 61% of all biased studies on internet kill switches support internet kill switches. /what a load of crap.

  • by Platinumrat (1166135) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:33PM (#34042162) Journal
    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.
  • Re:Poor reporting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by baKanale (830108) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:47PM (#34042336)

    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.

  • by Securityemo (1407943) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:51PM (#34042400) Journal
    Y'know, I don't really think I can take that statement at face value.
  • by Quirkz (1206400) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:53PM (#34042430) Homepage
    Propaganda machine? Most people don't know what this is about, outside of the poll. If the question is anything like a typical poll, it'll be like: "If part of the internet has a problem, should the President have the authority to stop it?" Of course 61% of the population will say yes to something stupid like that. Possibly 3% said no because they actually know enough to understand the issue. The other 36% said no because they're of the opposite political party from the current president, and are thinking about what powers they want Obama to have, rather than what powers they'd want a generalized American president to have.

    (and that's not picking on Republicans; the numbers would be the same the other way around, I'm sure.)

  • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans@g m a il.com> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:55PM (#34042454) Homepage

    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 a suboptimal way to save things.

    Your plan is a bit meh, at best.

  • by Juan Lawry (1588913) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:57PM (#34042500)
    Isn't it conceivable that the neutral internet is somewhat equivalent to the right of assembly as well as freedom to publish opinion in contemporary usage? What protection will we have if an ideologue or worse gets into that office. It's happened before...
  • Re:Most Americans (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:03PM (#34042608)

    I'd be surprised if those 50% could give any kind of technical explanation of how such a "kill switch" would work.
    Hell, I'd be surprised if even 1% of Americans could explain some simple terms like HTTP(S), DNS, TCP/IP, let alone things like BGP or OSPF.

    There are very few good analogies which can be used to describe it to the general public.
    ("Like a balloon, and something bad happens").
    Even if we could explain the problems in a way everyone would understand, prior voting records would indicate that most people don't have the foresight to see how something like this could be abused (see: Patriot Act, DMCA).
    ("But Obama is in office, and we like him -- he would only use these powers for good...")

    Unfortunately, warning about potential future trampling of rights and censorship just doesn't play as well as "OMG!!! TERR'ISTS!!!!".

  • Re:This just in. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by operagost (62405) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:05PM (#34042636) Homepage Journal
    More like the majority of Americans are either clueless or good liars:

    More than three-quarters (80%) of Americans regularly limit access to personal information posted to social media sites and make use of privacy settings; and 73% regularly update anti-virus software.

    Now, do we really believe that most people have checked their security settings on Facebook and Myspace and regularly purchased updates for their virus scanner?

  • by darkuncle (4925) <darkuncle@darkunc[ ]net ['le.' in gap]> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:24PM (#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.

  • In other news..... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hoyosa (541689) <hoyosa&sdf,lonestar,org> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:35PM (#34043052)
    In other news, 61% of Americans have no idea how the internet works.
  • by justin12345 (846440) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @05:00PM (#34043318)
    I'm imagining that the 61% that answered yes envisioned a "cyber attack" as their computer screens blowing up in their faces like on Star Trek. They probably don't realize that a cyber attack would probably take the form of shutting down potions of internet, so a presidential switch to shut down portions of the internet would essentially achieve the thing it's trying to prevent.

    That kind of logic reminds me of the "Nike Hercules" program which attempted to thwart incoming Soviet nukes by detonating American nukes above American cities as a shield.
  • Re:In some ways... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @05:13PM (#34043446)

    Ancient Greece wasn't at all like a Modern Democracy.

    Switzerland has Direct Democracy, and their criminal rehabilitation program is vastly superior to the USA "you gonna get raped" prison system.

  • by coaxial (28297) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @05:21PM (#34043512) Homepage

    This is not insightful at all, as any insight needs to understand the definitions of the words being used as a prerequisite.

    A constitution protects the minority from the majority.

    There is no distinction between a "republic" and a "democracy," beacuse a republic is simply a democracy whose head is a president. e.g. Canada and the United States are both democracies, but Canada is not a republic.

    Stop taking civics lessons from Internet forums, and read a book. Democracy comes in two flavors: direct and indirect. Both Canada and the United States are indirect democracies.

    Stop this nonsense now [salon.com]

  • Bullshit. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @05:50PM (#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

  • by mindwhip (894744) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @06:56PM (#34044516)

    Taking it one step further...

    A mechanism to shut down (ie. disconnect from the rest of the world) part of the (American portion of the) internet (since, for the most part at least, there are too many possible routes in and out of most countries for any one country to be able to totally disconnect a country other than itself) is a potential weak point and a target for an attack.

    Such a system would increase any security risks defeating the whole purpose... no sane country would mandate such a thing.

  • Re:In some ways... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by charrington (1930416) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @05:27AM (#34047420)

    Direct democracy is only a threat when it is enacted on a scale which exceeds the human cognitive ability to deal with each other directly and personally. People supposedly evolved to handle knowing 400 people or so directly. Up to that scale, it is possible to know most of their names, what they are capable of doing or likely to do, etc. In such an environment, direct democracy works pretty well (in the form of general group consensus - direct, democratic). Humans spent almost all of their prehistory living in communities of under 400 people, so they evolved to prefer this system, or more accurately we evolved the system and it us. Close to 200,000 years of continued human existence speaks volumes on the success of this.

    When you start organizing people into centrally controlled groups (cities, states, etc.) of greater than 400, then a few people will be clever enough to control it and the rest will be clueless sheep, or somewhere in between that. The majority of "voters" in such an environment will always be extremely good at making very dumb choices, because their brains (our brains) did not evolve to handle the rational and thoughtful analysis of a system on this huge scale which is in fact a prerequisite for making an informed choice about it.

    If you do for whatever reason have the ability to grasp the big picture and, very rare, have the ability to make the correct judgement, then remember you are the exception and you should never expect "society" to behave as you believe they should.

    When everyone (normal and abnormal both) finally gets that point, then we won't be having discussions of whether or not to give someone the authority to shut down global infrastructure.

  • Re:This just in. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @07:10AM (#34047828) Journal

    >>>Oh, but both my question and yours are loaded with misleading and biasing rationales for granting the president authority, aren't they?

    No shit Sherlock. That was my point. The original question was worded to predispose uninformed citizens to say "yes the president should be able to stop cyberattacks". The question is biased/misleading, and the results meaningless but they give those who desire to control the internet the data they need to justify it. "The majority americans say the net should have a killswitch." Like Noam Chomsy said, they are manufacturing consent via slanted questions that give them the answer they desire.

    An ideal poll would simply ask, "Should the president have power to turn off the internet?" without biasing the question to give the answer desired.
    .

    >>>just like the president can abuse many of the powers he has.

    Yeah well, it's not the current president I fear. It's the future president that resembles somebody like Julius Caesar, or Nero, or Napoleon, or Lenin, or Stalin, or Mao, or Mussolini, or Pol Pot. We've handed him exactly the tool he needs to silence dissent and strengthen his grip. We should not be giving so much power to just one man, or even one group of men. Such powers should be divided across multiple departments, and multiple levels of government, in order to dilute the damage any one person/group can cause.
    .

    >>>plausible deniability

    A leader doesn'tt need that when he (or his parliament) has been given near-absolute power. You can do your oppression out in the open, and nobody will be able to object (again see my list of former democracies that fell to dictators). To mangle a quote from a German Christian pastor: "First they came for our guns, but we did not object because we did not need guns. Then they came for our free speech, but we did not object because free speech is not absolute. Then they came for the protesters & reporters, but we did not object because we were not protesters or reporters. Then they came for me, and no one was left to object. Or allowed to speak-out for fear of being jailed like me."

"It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and I'm wearing Milkbone underware." -- Norm, from _Cheers_

Working...