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Third of Brits Concerned About Election Interference

A third of British adults are concerned about hackers interfering in future general elections or referendums, according to new research from SANS Institute.

The global IT training organization polled over 2000 individuals to better understand their concerns about the impact of cyber-related issues on society.

It found that 34% believe cyber-attackers could influence the democratic process in future.

A long-awaited parliamentary committee report issued earlier this year claimed that while it was difficult to say definitively if there was "successful" interference in the 2016 EU referendum, “there is, however, strong evidence that points to hostile state actors influencing democratic processes.”

Russia in particular came under scrutiny for the pro-leave propaganda circulated by its state-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik.

Election interference can also be more insidious: a senate report out in July argued that Russian hackers likely compromised voting infrastructure in all 50 states ahead of the 2016 Presidential election.

Just a fifth of UK adults responding to the SANS Institute poll said they thought the UK is well prepared to defend itself against future cyber issues, and nearly half (45%) claimed there’s not enough security experts in the workforce to protect the country from attack.

However, less than one in 10 (6%) said they thought being a cybersecurity professional was an important job in society, highlighting the major PR challenge facing the industry in trying to get more people to consider a career in the sector.

Skills shortages currently stand at nearly three million globally, including 142,000 in EMEA, according to (ISC)².

SANS Institute CTO, James Lyne, argued that it is the role of government, industry and parents and teachers to emphasize the important role cybersecurity professionals play in defending democracy and economic growth.

“The findings of the poll demonstrate a lack of awareness of what cybersecurity practitioners do to protect our national interests, economy and personal finances,” he added. “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 cybersecurity professionals.”

The research was conducted to promote the beginning of the latest annual Cyber Discovery program, which aims to educate and inspire 13-18-year-olds in the UK to be the cybersecurity stars of tomorrow.

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