Millennials And Cybersecurity

Millennials And Cybersecurity

Understanding technology and using it securely are not the same thing.

If you’re one of the nearly 75 million people born between 1982 and 2004, you fall into the generational group researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss proclaimed “Millennials” in 2012. Since the term Millennial didn’t come about until recently, one of the defining characteristics of the Millennial generation as compared to their Generation X parents is a familiarity with technology.

Most people who identify with this generation group grew up in a high-tech era and view technology as a part of daily life. But understanding technology and using it securely are not the same thing, and new studies are pointing a finger at young people for making careless choices in their use of technology — choices that have significant impacts in the workplace.

Business and Pleasure in One Place

In 2013, mobile threat defense company Marble security conducted a survey of online security practices in people born between 1980 and 2000. The results indicated that Millennials were five percent more likely to have been hacked in a major breach than persons even just a few years older.

How does this impact office affairs? Their poor security practices do nothing to discourage Millennials from using their personal devices in business applications. Imagine you’re an executive receiving a sensitive document that’s just been emailed to you using someone’s personal email. You have no way of knowing whether it was compromised while on public servers.

This type of exposure becomes frightening when you consider the how easy it is for cybercriminals to take advantage of abundant personal information these days. The recent yahoo breach that exposed information for five hundred million personal accounts is a great example. All an attacker needs to do is match your account name to the email, and viola — everything in your inbox is theirs.

Have We Become Comfortably Numb?

Despite their familiarity with technology as a tool for productivity, today’s youth don’t seem the least bit concerned about network security, even in an age when breaches, hacks and identity theft take place on a nearly daily basis.

Seventy-two percent of Millennials polled by Marble indicated that they had logged into an unsecure public network, more than half said they had used mobile media — for example, a flash drive — that they had received from someone else and nearly a quarter confessed to having shared an online password with someone outside their family.

Collectively, it seems Millennials are just plain less concerned about online security than other generations. However, when you consider that they’ve grown up in a world where password entry is just another chore, perhaps the situation is a little bit like getting behind the wheel of a car. You know it’s dangerous, but you don’t feel nervous. You become desensitized to the threat.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the way Millennials perceive cyber threats is their reaction when they are the target of one.

It seems they fail to recognize the consequences of a potential breach, and how real they are. Once the attack takes place, Millennials use their knowledge of technology to quickly make changes and adopt more secure practices.

Best Practices for Safe Browsing

If you’re the owner of a company that hires lots of young people, this might not be enough to convince you to institute a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, but it is a sign that there’s hope.

Many of the things Millennials are doing wrong are easily corrected — for example, using a single password for multiple locations. Instead, try using a password manager like LastPass to keep track of multiple credentials for each individual site. Create complex passwords that use numbers and characters, and replace them often to ensure maximum protection.

Social media, made popular during the age of Millennials, has been a popular medium through which criminals obtain personal info. Take caution not to share items that could be used to mine your personal information.

Millennials are also commonly the first to get their hands on hot new devices or applications. While these new technologies might use the latest security, they can also fall victim to exploits developers haven’t had time to work out. If you’re using an app or device in a business setting, be sure to vet it with your IT team.

Is the Next Great Generation a Great Security Risk?

Millennials bring a wealth of technological knowledge to the workplace, and are generally perceived as more attracted to jobs where they can make a difference and influence growth. These two characteristics make them attractive hires, not to be ruled out just because of Marble’s survey.

The same risks many Millennials have fallen victim to — possibly because they simply use technology more than other generations — can do harm to someone of any age. This is why business owners need to carefully consider policy before allowing the use of personal devices and insecure browsing.

With a few additions to the employee handbook, some good training and an IT policy that includes antimalware software and password management, you can easily eliminate 99% of the threats that anyone who is not being careful, Millennial or not, might introduce.

Cover Image Credit: Splitshire

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The Case Against 'Strong AI', Are Computers Truly Intelligent?

The analysis of American philosopher, John Searle, and his "Chinese Room Thought Experiment," making the case against strong artificial intelligence.


In his stance against 'strong AI,' John Searle presented what he named 'The Chinese Room Thought Experiment'. This experiment presents the situation in which a monolingual English speaker is secluded in a room and is given some writings that are written in Chinese along with some Chinese script and a set of rules in English to aid the English speaker to be able to compare the two sets of Chinese writings from each other. Then providing the English speaker with a third selection of writings along with more instructions in English for deciphering, the monolingual English speaker is now enabled to prepare a response to the questions asked in the script.

To compare and create an analogy which can further the understanding of this experiment can be one being secluded and being presented with two sets of hieroglyphics from Ancient Egypt and being given a key in English which allows them to understand the hieroglyphics and use that to answer the third set of hieroglyphics which are in the form of a question. The analogy works well in comparison to the Chinese scripts since most have experience in school being presented with a similar and relatable situation with hieroglyphics.

After the secluded monolingual English speaker uses all of the scripts and guides presented to him to answer the questions and return them to those outside the room, his answers are read by native Chinese speakers. The person inside the room becomes so well versed in following the instructions that are presented to them that they are able to seamlessly respond to the questions and the work that they created is seemingly "indistinguishable from those of Chinese speakers."

When they read and look at the answers provided by the English speaker, the Chinese speakers would not be able to come to the conclusion that the person that is inside the room and responding to their questions is not a native Chinese speaker. By being able to produce these answers by just decoding uninterpreted symbols using a code, it can be said that the person just following the instructions is "simply behaving like a computer." Searle uses this computer example to relate to the "Script Applier Mechanism" (SAM), story understanding program, created by Schank and Abelson in 1977.

In order to reach his conclusion for "The Chinese Room Thought Experiment," Searle decides to consider the situation as if he were the monolingual English speaker placed in the secluded room. In his own perspective, he believes that it is quite clear that he does not understand any bit of the Chinese stories. He states that he receives the same content in the writings that would be seamless for the native Chinese speaker to understand and regardless of the extent to which how extensive the deciphering codes are in the end, he as a monolingual English speaker understands nothing. Searle then takes this conclusion that he comes to and makes the follow-up conclusion that Schank's computer does not understand any of the stories either.

The computer is also able to use all three sets of the Chinese writing as well as the deciphering codes in English to come up with a response in Chinese just as the well-trained English speaker is able to do. Since Searle claims that he is able to "understand nothing" and is able to produce a response to the questions, he claims that Schank and Abelson's computer also does not understand anything as it is simply able to reproduce the exact same thing that the English speaker was able to do. Expanding the conclusions that he made further, Searle then states that the ability of Schank and Abelson's computer to follow the set of rules in order to respond to the questions is not something that can be considered inherently special or unique to their specific computer.

It is something that can be programmed into any computer or taught to any human being so it is not unique and the theory can then apply to any simulation. This works to support Searle's task of refuting strong AI, by stating that the computers ability to decipher the three sets of Chinese script and use the English codes, it is not considered intelligent no matter how intelligent it may seem.

The programming inserted into the computers which cause the symbols to be processed, it is not intelligent because it is just executing the functions it is being told to do and the symbols are meaningless and the computer itself is not doing anything that could be considered intelligent. With this lack of semantics and thinking, it can be stated that it does not have any meaningful mental states further supporting Searle's argument.

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