New Jersey Institute of Technology Poll on Internet Security Systems Says Residents Expect Another Terrorist Attack
NEWARK, Feb. 1--Fully four out of five (80 percent) New Jersey adults think it is likely that another
act of terrorism will occur within the U.S. in the next two years, according to the New Jersey Institute of
Technology Survey on Internet Security Systems. Still, two out of three (66 percent) say the federal, state
and local governments are doing enough to protect the U.S. from future attacks.
The survey also finds that far fewer New Jersey residents - just 23 percent - believe that information
systems in the United States are more secure from attack by terrorists or hackers than they were before
September 11th. Over half (56 percent) say information systems are either less secure or no safer than
they were before.
- Two out of three (67 percent) New Jersey adults think that national identity cards are a good idea,
and nearly as many believe that everyone in the country should be fingerprinted.
- Among non-terrorism concerns, New Jersey adults are most worried about identity theft, wherein
criminals steal personal information and then take out bank loans or apply for credit cards. Four out of
five (80 percent) New Jersey residents are worried about this. "Financial transactions require a different
security protocol than does information about the national security," says Atam P. Dhawan, Ph.D., chairman
of the electrical and computer engineering department at NJIT. "These security protocols have to be
continuously updated, however, because they are only good until they are broken."
- Use of retinal scanning to verify a person's identity before they use an ATM is seen as a good or
excellent idea by 66 percent of New Jersey residents. But use of the same technology to verify a person's
identity before they board a plane is seen as a good or excellent idea by 78 percent. Donald H. Sebastian,
Ph.D., vice president for research and development at NJIT, suggests that public acceptance of biometric
identification is likely to grow as the technology becomes a more routine aspect of daily life, and not
just associated with crime prevention. "As networked computer technology spreads from the desktop PC out
to the automobile and shopping mall and virtually every imaginable product and venue, biometric authentication
will be the key to delivering personalized services and environments. Although in its infancy, we can expect
rapid growth of this technology."
- The closer a proposed security measure comes to affecting them directly, the less likely New Jersey
residents are to accept it. For instance, most do not want the government to have more power to tap phone
lines, listen in on cellular phone conversations, or have access to people's e-mail. But there is very high
support - 84 percent - for using face screening to scan crowds in airports or stadiums to detect criminal or
terrorist suspects. As well, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of New Jersey adults think it a good or
excellent idea to use data from EZ-Pass to look for wanted persons.
"New Jersey residents are concerned about the purposes for which such tracking data are used," says NJIT
Distinguished Professor of Information Systems Roxanne Starr Hiltz. "While they strongly favor such data
being available to the police to apprehend persons wanted on criminal charges, they tend to be opposed to
its use for most other kinds of investigational or enforcement purposes. Finding the balance between the
use of such technology to increase our security, while also protecting personal privacy and civil rights,
is the technological and legislative challenge."
- 82 percent of New Jersey adults are online, either at home or at work. Among New Jersey residents
between the ages of 18 and 34, 95 percent are online. Of those online, nearly half (45 percent) have
received a computer virus via e-mail, and 38 percent say they have had a virus affect their computer
at home or work.
- New Jersey residents overwhelmingly support blocking-technology and web monitoring, to allow
parents to check 1.) the websites their children visit, 2.) who they talk to, and 3.) what they say in
online discussion groups. Fully 83 percent support this technology, while just 7 percent oppose it.
The poll was conducted among 400 New Jersey adults selected randomly from a list of residential phone
numbers. The interviews were conducted by telephone from January 20-22, 2002. Quotas were established
by region based on census population figures in New Jersey counties. The margin of error for this survey
is ±4.9 percent on the overall sample. The margin of error on subsamples is greater.
NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling
more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students
in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School
of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors
College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers
adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include
architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental
engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics,
multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet
Life magazine cites NJIT as a "perennially most wired" university.