A good portion of the workforce today grew up connected. They’ve never been without high-speed Internet, smartphones and apps. As such, they demand 24-hour access and the ability to work how they want, when they want and where they want. They live the app-blended life to the fullest – leveraging work and personal apps from all devices, at all hours, on all types of networks. And to many of them, getting hacked or having their identity stolen is just part of life.
This can be a challenge for companies that want to hire the next generation and IT organisations wanting to accommodate the needs of super-connected users while also maintaining a strong security posture to avoid detrimental attacks and security breaches.
The A10 Application Intelligence Report, or A10 AIR, our global research project examining people’s attitudes, behaviours and experiences with applications and how that affects corporate security and IT, revealed that younger workers often pay less attention to security when downloading and using work and personal applications. They’re bolder. They can be reckless. And they favour app performance above all else, even security.
Here’s a look at 10 ways the global workforce’s younger generation feels about apps and cyber security:
I Can’t Even…
Respondents 40 and under are much more likely to say they “cannot live without apps” or it would “be a struggle” to live without them compared to those over 40. Respondents 40 and under express similar feelings when asked to compare their need for apps with breathing, eating or drinking.
Silence is Golden
When asked one thing they would choose in a 24-hour period, almost twice as many respondents under 30 say they would choose their smartphone and its applications over the ability to talk. Respondents under 30 also say they’d choose their smartphone over access to the outdoors or sunlight.
In an Emergency…
Respondents under 30 said they’d grab their smartphone on the way out of their homes in an emergency over a safe containing important documents, their personal photo albums or a desktop or laptop.
Only 19 percent of respondents in their 20s say security is the most important attribute of an application. Security ranks behind performance by a wide margin. Security also ranks behind ease of use. Conversely, 34 percent of respondents over 50 said security is a top concern
The smartphone is the device of choice for the younger generation; nearly three out of four, 72 percent, in the 21-to-30 age range cite smartphones as their primary device for app access. Zero respondents in that age demographic say they prefer laptops or desktops to mobile apps.
Is It Safe?
Sixty-seven percent of respondents age 21 to 30 believe mobile phones are the safer devices compared to desktops and laptops and Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart TVs, video cameras, cars and appliances. Meanwhile, 65 percent of older age groups say laptops and desktops are the more secure choice. This misperception can be dangerous, as many IoT devices are located in office environments and can be hacked and leveraged as an inroad for threat actors, which can make them less secure than traditional smartphones and laptops.
Identity Theft: A Rite of Passage
More than one in 10 respondents globally, 13 percent, say they have been a victim of identity theft. By a wide margin, the younger the generation, the more likely the person is to be a victim: nearly one in five, 19 percent, in their 20’s report having their identity stolen, while only 2 percent of those over 50 cite the same.
According to the AIR report, almost one in three under 30, 31 percent, say they’ve been hacked. And one in five in their 30s, 22 percent, say they’ve been hacked. That’s a stark contrast compared to respondents in their 40s and 50s, of which only 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, claim to be a hacking victim. This raises the question of how aware people are about getting hacked.
Get Lost (or Stolen)
The report also found younger generations are more careless with their devices. One in three, 34 percent, of respondents under 30 say they’ve lost their mobile device or computer. The report also found that one in four, 24 percent, of respondents under 30 say they’ve had their mobile device stolen at one time. These are work devices or devices with business information on them.
The younger the respondent, the more careless they are with their passwords, the report revealed. Half of respondents age 21 to 30 say they either never change passwords or use the same password the majority of the time, compared to only 26 percent of respondents over 50 who do the same.
What’s IT to Do?
Younger generations pose an interesting challenge to IT teams, who strive to give them the flexibility to work how they want, but must also maintain control and ensure a secure working environment. The onus falls on IT to understand the app-blended life and consider user behaviour in security planning.
From there, awareness and education are key. Educating everyone in the business about how behaviour, attitude and experience regarding applications can impact corporate security can influence better, more secure behaviour. IT teams must encourage a security-first culture and implement enforceable policies that get buy-in at every level from the CEO down. And from a technology perspective, IT pros can choose security solutions that give them tighter control across their application environments through per-app visibility and per-app analytics without sacrificing the performance that employees of all ages are used to, and now demand.
By Mike Hemes, Regional Director, Western Europe, A10 Networks
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