Just over half of Americans (53 percent) think the United States is “prepared” to handle a “major cyberattack,” according to a Pew Research Center report released Wednesday.
However, views on the country’s preparedness for a cyberattack are split along party lines. Sixty-one percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe the country is prepared for a cyberattack, while only 47 percent of Democrats feel the same way.
The country is in strong agreement that a major cyberattack is inevitable. Out of the 26 countries Pew surveyed, Americans are “among the most likely to say cyberattacks will happen.” In terms of what will be damaged, 83 percent say public infrastructure (such as power grids or phone and internet systems), 82 percent believe national security information will be accessed, and 78 percent think elections will be tampered with via cyberattack. Again, there is some split among party affiliation. Pew found that 87 percent of Democrats believe election tampering is likely, while only 66 percent of Republicans believe similarly. Democrats are also more worried about national security information being accessed than Republicans, 86 percent compared to 79 percent. Additionally, Pew found that older Americans are more concerned about infrastructure damage than their younger counterparts.
In terms of how the United States compares to the rest of the world, the report offers some interesting insights. In terms of believing the country is prepared for a cyberattack, the United States falls towards the higher side. While 53 percent of Americans believe the country are prepared for an attack, 72 percent of Israelis and 67 percent of Russians believe their countries are prepared. Conversely, only 9 percent of Argentinians and 16 percent of Brazilians believe their countries are prepared.
The United States is also more concerned than most other countries that public infrastructure will be damaged, national security information will be accessed, or elections will be tampered with via cyberattack. This is most stark when it comes to elections being tampered with. On average, 19 percent of Europeans are concerned that their elections will be tampered with via cyberattack; however, 49 percent of Americans have the same concerns. The difference is less stark, though still present, for the other categories.