IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Majority of Americans say ransomware attacks should be considered terrorism

Most also believe it should be made illegal to pay ransoms to hackers

A sign displayed at a petrol station in Washington, US saying "Temporarily Out of Service" following a ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline

Almost nine in ten Americans believe that a ransomware attack should be treated as an act of terrorism, according to a new poll.

The Mitre-Harris Poll survey, which collected responses from 2,037 US adults in October, found that 77% of people were concerned about ransomware, with 86% of people viewing infections at the same level as terrorist attacks.

The poll also found strong objections to paying the criminals behind ransomware attacks; almost four in five people said that the law should forbid private companies from paying ransoms to hackers.

While the FBI disapproves of ransomware payments and the US Treasury has warned about potential sanction violations, there are no US laws forbidding payments yet.

Related Resource

The secure cloud configuration imperative

The central role of cloud security posture management

The secure cloud configuration imperativeFree download

The survey followed a series of increasingly high-profile ransomware attacks that affected US critical national infrastructure, including those on Colonial Pipeline, JBS Meats, and Iowa's New Cooperative farming group.

The US government is already ahead of the respondents; in June, the Department of Justice elevated ransomware attacks to a similar status as terrorism, and also created a centralized team to coordinate and share information on ransomware investigations. Senators have also proposed legislation that would target foreign nations that support ransomware actors.

The Mitre-Harris Poll survey also found broad unrest about the international race to build better technology, with 55% of respondents advocating for more technology R&D investment to stay ahead of China. 5G and telecommunications technology was a particular area of concern, with two thirds worried about the US using technology developed in China.

In October, the FCC prevented China Telecom from offering telecommunications services in the US amid security concerns.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was another worry, with three quarters of respondents expressing concern that the technology could be used maliciously. The FTC has previously warned companies to use AI responsibly, threatening interference if they fail to do so.

Mitre, which operates the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database on behalf of the US government, has proposed a Horizon Strategy Framework for science and technology innovation.

Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Recommended

Darktrace AI’s Antigena helps stop ransomware attack at Dordogne GHT
ransomware

Darktrace AI’s Antigena helps stop ransomware attack at Dordogne GHT

13 Apr 2022
Sabbath hackers are targeting US schools and hospitals
ransomware

Sabbath hackers are targeting US schools and hospitals

29 Nov 2021
Out-of-hours ransomware attacks have a greater impact on revenue
ransomware

Out-of-hours ransomware attacks have a greater impact on revenue

18 Nov 2021
US and Israel join forces to fight ransomware
ransomware

US and Israel join forces to fight ransomware

15 Nov 2021

Most Popular

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022
Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack
hacking

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

16 May 2022
IT admin deletes company’s databases and is jailed for seven years
Policy & legislation

IT admin deletes company’s databases and is jailed for seven years

16 May 2022