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In a strange dichotomy of confidence and fear, security professionals believe they are ready for a cyber attack, but at the same time they feel it is “likely or extremely likely” an attack on critical infrastructure in the next three years will take systems down and cause the loss of human life.

While 80 percent of survey respondents believe cyber security is “either greatly or extremely concerning,” most also believe they’re prepared for an eventual cyber attack, according to a new report from Intel Security. In terms of being vulnerable to attack, 27 percent feel “very or extremely vulnerable” today, where three years ago 50 percent of respondents felt that way.

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More than 600 IT professionals from critical infrastructure organizations participated in Intel’s survey.

For Raj Samani, VP and CTO of Intel, the results show an overconfidence among IT security professionals. Given that 90 percent of respondents experienced at least one attack on secure systems, and the average came out to nearly 20 attacks per year. In most cases, these virtual attacks resulted in physical damage. Thirty-three percent ended in service disruption, and more than 25 percent allowed a data compromise.

Schneider Bold

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breaches highlight the concept of information sharing among private, federal and public groups into mainstream conversation, and Intel’s survey found most professionals believe in cooperation with government.

Seventy-six percent of respondents said cooperation with their own government is important, while 74 percent said it was also important to share with similar organizations. Overall, 86 percent believe cooperation between government agencies and private firms on infrastructure is “critical to successful cyber defense.”

Even with a high degree of confidence in their systems, half of respondents admitted to thinking its “likely or extremely likely” that an attack on critical infrastructure in the next three years will take systems down and cause the loss of human life.

Click here to download the report.

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