Report: Millennial Employees the Biggest Threat to Network Security

Millennials are most likely to reuse a password, accept social media friend requests from strangers, and look for a security workaround.

Security breaches continue to be problematic, for large and small businesses alike. One security risk experts are most concerned is the Millennial generation. A report from SoftwareAdvice examines how the three key working demographics approach security, and airs the concerns of experts.

According to Steven Weisman, security expert and author of the report:

Millennials are tremendously comfortable with, and active users of, great amounts of social media—but unfortunately, do not often do so with the proper security precautions, which can lead to data breaches.

Historically, all users are notoriously bad at maintaining good password hygiene, but in this study, Millennials seem to be the worst. 85 percent of Millennials reuse passwords from the last 12 months, compared to 74 percent of baby boomers. Millennials are also more likely to accept social media requests from strangers.

Three percent of Millennials surveyed said they always accept these requests, 16 percent accept them most of the time, and 41 percent sometimes accept them. Comparatively, 42 of Gen-Xers and 50 percent of Baby Boomers said they never accept these requests.

Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers do pose a higher risk in one category: accessing work information from their own devices. Nearly 50 percent of these groups access work information from their own devices ‘very often’ and nearly 30 percent access it ‘sometimes.’

Millennials represent the most likely group to ‘never’ access work info from their own devices. However, Millennials are most likely to search for workarounds for their company’s security systems.

The Software Advice report concludes:

While millennials demonstrate riskier behavior in some areas, they are not a uniquely dangerous demographic, and all generations pose serious security challenges. Likewise, every demographic has a role to play in reducing risk.

Employers should not seek to alienate Millennials by discouraging their use of technology. The best solution is for companies to train their employees in best practices, and inform all employees about proper security protocols. But as employees become more tech-savvy companies should seek to harness this potential.

Elise Yacobellis, director of development for the IT security certification organization (ISC)² advises that policies should be “sensible, well-balanced and enable business efficiency.”

He added:

The key is awareness and training, along with an explanation of why the policies are important.

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