political hacktivism, future cyber skills
© Wrangel

34% of the UK public is concerned with the rise in political hacktivism aimed at disrupting democratic processes, such as general elections and referendums

  • Over a third of Brits believe that hackers will attempt to influence future UK general elections or referendums
  • Only 1 in 5 believe the UK is well prepared to defend itself against future cyber security issues
  • Yet, only 6% of respondents said they thought being a cyber security professional was an important job in society

This is according to an opinion poll, commissioned by the team delivering the Cyber Discovery training programme for 13-18-year-olds in the UK.

The findings come to light against a backdrop of political uncertainty and growing offensive cyber activity from nation state actors, as well as increasing industry-wide recognition of the huge skills gap within the cyber security profession. This sentiment is echoed in the views of the UK public – only 1 in 5 believe that the UK is well prepared to defend itself against future cyber security issues, and 45% don’t believe there are enough cyber security experts in the workforce to protect the UK from cyber threats.

Despite this, only 6% of respondents said they thought being a cyber security professional was an important job in society, which raises significant concerns that the country will not be well equipped, both in terms of mentality and resource, to deal with the constantly shifting threat landscape.

James Lyne, CTO of SANS Institute, which is delivering the Cyber Discovery programme for the UK Government, said:

“The findings of the poll demonstrate a lack of awareness of what cyber security practitioners do to protect our national interests, economy and personal finances. The UK will only be prepared to cope with the evolving geopolitical cyber frontier if we can educate and nurture greater numbers of cyber defenders and instil a sense of urgency in that new generation of cyber security professionals.

“It’s the role of both government and industry, as well as parents and teachers, to impress upon the future workforce the important role that those working in cyber security will play in defending our democratic and economic processes as well as our data, in the future”.

The skills deficit currently being faced by the cyber security industry is at risk of widening to the point of crisis if collaborative measures are not taken to futureproof the sector.

Tapping into the next wave of talent and arming today’s young people with the tools to succeed in cyber security roles in the future is crucial to this endeavour.

Inspiring and educating the cyber workforce of the future to better protect us in the longer term has been a focus of SANS Institute since the launch of HM Government-backed Cyber Discovery in 2017, now just starting its third year.

The programme aims to raise the profile of cyber security as a career and to inspire and educate teenagers, aged 13-18, in the hope that they will become the next generation of cyber security wizards with the task of protecting the UK from hackers.

Daniel Milnes, who took part in Cyber Discovery this year, has already gone on to secure a job in cyber security straight out of school. Many of this year’s Elite have also passed a GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) examination – a coveted qualification that is normally achieved by professionals with significant cyber security experience in the workplace.

Daniel said of his exposure to the programme:

“Cyber Discovery has really been revolutionary for me and my future plans. As I came to the end of my GCSEs, I was expecting two more uneventful years of education before beginning a career in systems administration, but then I attended a presentation about Cyber Discovery.

“I decided to sign up as just something to pass the time, but quickly found myself in a whirlwind of education on topics I’d never even considered before. When I started, I couldn’t have told you the first thing about web application security, cryptology, digital forensics, and the countless other topics covered, so to be able to learn about and practise them for free was amazing.

“I’ve made friends through the programme, pushed my existing skills to their limits, and learnt so many more, so much so that I’m now working as a Cyber Security Consultant, which is something I would never have dreamed of before Cyber Discovery.”

The first phase of Cyber Discovery is open until the 25th October, for more information or to sign up, click here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here