When it comes to digital security, millennials are slackers (but so are boomers)

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Data from a survey of nearly 800 employed U.S. adults makes clear what enterprise IT security professionals have always known: Humans — of all ages! — are the single biggest security vulnerability in any enterprise.

Conducted by payment technology solutions vendor First Data, the survey aimed to assess the cybersecurity awareness of different age groups among U.S. adults and to determine which issues are most important to each demographic.

Here are some highlights:

  • Fewer than half of Millennials (45%) “keep their operating systems, browsers, anti-virus software and other critical software up to date,” versus 63% of Baby boomers.
  • 70% of Millennials believe it is “very likely” that downloading free apps and software leaves them vulnerable to cyber attacks.
  • 42% of Millennials “only change passwords when forced,” versus 32% of boomers

Make no mistake, the survey shows most Millennials, in some instances, are security aware.  More than four in five (81%) said they “never open attachments from individuals they don’t know,” while 79% likewise won’t click on links in emails from individuals they don’t know, even if that individual has a most pressing business opportunity to discuss with recipients that involves the transfer of several million dollars into their personal bank account.

But even in cases where the majority of respondents in any age group indicate that they have some base level of security awareness, here’s what enterprise IT pros see:

  • 37% of Baby boomers don’t keep critical software up to date
  • 19% of Millennials may open attachments from people they don’t know
  • 21% of Millennials may click on links in emails from strangers

Let’s say you are in charge of IT security for an enterprise with 200 employees. Based on the percentages above, anywhere from 40 to 70 employees could be responsible for a devastating malware attack on the network every single day!

In other words, none of these survey results will make enterprise IT security pros sleep better at night. But they do get to say “I told you so.”

RELATED LINKS

Not all cyberattacks are over data theft

How to avoid a ransomware attack

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