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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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?

In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

Cover Image Credit: NewsOK

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