The world entered the digital era decades ago, and the first generation to be born and raised in this fast-changing and ever-improving society were the Millennials. As expected, they are notoriously tech-savvy, but does that automatically imply that they are also experts in cyber safety? How does this generation, often described as arrogant, fearless, and entitled, feel about cyber safety, and do they really take the time to secure their information online?
The link between the technology of the digital era and the Millennials is evident. Young people who were born between 1980 and 1995 were the pioneers of the cyber world; they were among the first users and the biggest contributors the development of digital technologies. However, their further involvement in issues of cyber security is somewhat questionable in two very distinct aspects. The first aspect is the question of personal cyber security while the second is the question of Millennials taking over workplaces that deal with cyber security both for governmental institutions and for private companies.
The lack of Millennials employed in the IT sections of companies and governmental agencies is confirmed and well documented in the UK. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, more than 50 percent of UK companies lack IT security staff to deal with cyberattacks. The Center also emphasizes that only six percent of companies are willing to employ university graduates – Millennials. The Center’s report – the Global Information Security Workforce Study – estimates that by the year 2022 the world will face a major shortage of information security workers, to be precise – the world will lack 1.8 million IT experts. This study also emphasizes that almost half of UK respondents state that it is difficult to find the qualified personnel they require. In other words, they are unwilling to hire Millennials to do this job. This statement is confirmed by the shocking fact that only 12 percent of the workforce dealing with cyber security is less than 35 years old.
Despite the fact that this report was conducted in the UK, the matter of mistrust towards Millennials is definitely a global issue. The Edward Snowden effect is one of the major causes of this problem, according to experts. Jill Slay, the Director of the Australian Center for Cyber Security, thinks that is it evident that after the Edward Snowden affair, government agencies and businesses became skeptical of giving confidential information to younger staff members, aka Millennials. However, Slay emphasizes that the older generation – the employers – are not entirely responsible for this situation and that some Millennials are not aware of the consequences of giving confidential information to third parties: “You’ll never be allowed in the circle of trust if you’re ever seen to breach that trust.“
Millennials also have a major issue of unawareness when it comes to their own personal cyber security. Despite the fact that most Millennials are extremely tech-savvy, especially in comparison to the average Baby Boomer, a very small percentage of this generation uses their knowledge to ensure the cyber security of their own personal information. A recent study conducted by the Keeper showed that 87 percent of young people aged between 18-31 reuse their passwords, 76 percent of this target group memorize or write down their password while 29 percent share their password with 2 or more people. All of which is considered to be bad practice when it comes to cyber security.
Another survey, commissioned by the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, shows that Millennials in that country are the least safe when it comes to cyber crimes. Only 32.6 percent of Millennials state that they use different passwords for their online accounts, and 36.2 percent use active MFA (multi-factor authentication) for their online activity. This survey confirmed the results of the Norton Cybersecurity Insight Report for 2015 which stated that 37 percent of Millennials think that they are “not interesting enough” to be targeted by hackers, even though 52 percent of responders have reported being the victims of some kind of online crime.
The overall mixture of cyber safety issues that Millennials are bound to deal with is shown in the results of yet another study, this one commissioned by ForcePoint, a cyber security firm. The research was conducted by LaunchTech, and it showed that Millennials do take cyber safety for granted. Two-thirds of the Millennials who participated in this survey stated that they use the same devices for their private and company work, while one third stated that they do access private social media accounts during their work hours. The small number of IT experts who are working on cyber security has to deal with a large number of employees, in this case Millennials who are not being careful enough with company data.
Installing apps, using clouds to store data, entering social media, not changing their passwords or sharing them with others are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cyber misbehavior among Millennials. When you add the fact that not enough Millennials are being hired to deal with these issues, one cannot deny the need to address this issue on a global scale. Even though most Millennials think that only the rich and famous are targeted by hackers, just try to imagine what would you feel like if someone got into your social media accounts or emails? So if you feel threatened at all by this very realistic possibility, go change your passwords and google how you can keep your personal information private in the cyber world.
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