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.


Other findings:

  • 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.

Contact Information:   Sheryl Weinstein
Robert Florida
Public Relations 
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