More than a third of the UK public is concerned that ‘hacktivism’ will disrupt democratic processes such as general elections and referendums, but few respect a career in cybersecurity.

That is the result of a 2,018 strong survey of UK adults, commissioned by Cyber Discovery, the Government’s free programme designed to teenagers into cyber security experts.

It reports that only one in five people believe that the UK is well prepared to defend itself against future cyber security issues, and 45 per cent don’t believe there are enough cyber security experts in the workforce to protect the UK from cyber threats.

James Lyne, CTO of SANS Institute, which is delivering the Cyber Discovery programme for the UK Government, said the findings demonstrate a lack of awareness of what cyber security practitioners do

“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”.

Daniel Milnes, who took part in Cyber Discovery this year, has gone on to secure a job in cybersecurity after finishing school.

Milnes said his exposure to the programme had been important to his future plans.

“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,” he said.

“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."