Millennials are known for being the most digitally connected generation and are now the largest generation in the workforce (Pew Research Center). Companies must integrate this younger generation’s rampant use of personal devices and personal apps at work into their data security strategy. Disregarding this trend could result in a complete disconnect between IT departments and this new generation dominating the workforce, causing extreme security vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.
Millennials have grown up in the digital world and keep all of their personal information on the internet. The way they communicate has been molded by social media and mobile devices. Despite the frequent “sorry my Facebook was hacked” status updates, Millennials still have more information online than any prior generation. Not only do they take the lead in their amount of online information, they are also the least concerned with protecting that information. Software Advice claimed that 85 percent of Millennials admitted to re-using credentials across sites and services. This constant connection to online profiles has instilled a general acceptance to personal information being online and caused this generation to be less concerned by cybersecurity threats.
Now that Millennials have grown into the workforce, they have brought this lack of security concern to their work. Compared to Gen X, which had to bridge the technological gap to become highly connected, Millennials do not have a distinct separation of work and personal life. They are more likely to work from home, which often results in the use of personal devices or unapproved cloud applications to transfer work documents. This generation’s value of efficiency explains a lot of this behavior, but unfortunately, it is at the expense of security. Sixty percent of Millennials “aren’t concerned about corporate security when they use personal apps instead of corporate-approved apps,” according to a survey. They would rather choose the quick, less secure alternative to getting their files instead of going through the long and tedious process of getting a device or application approved by the IT department.
Some critics claim that Millennials do care for security and privacy. Although they may care about the issue, there has been no drop in the amount of personal information shared online. This stems from a sense of accepted defeat among this younger generation. A common belief among Millennials is that companies “will have access to [their] data either way, so it doesn’t matter if [they] grant it to them or not” (Intercede Millennial Survey). Unfortunately, this sense of helplessness regarding data security has translated into a lack of awareness and precaution with cybersecurity risks.
The focus of data security has been mainly geared towards protecting from outsider threats, while insider threats are often written off as unimportant. Companies need to recognize the important generational shift that is happening in the workforce and accommodate their new ways of doing things in order to ensure future success. Companies can benefit from Millennials’ knack for efficiency if data security strategies are formulated to integrate this generation’s methods.