It would be fair to assume these groups are also more aware of
the associated cybersecurity risks. However, according to the lat-est
cyber hygiene study from OpenVPN, that logic doesn’t play
out in practice. A full half of 18–23-year-olds surveyed admit to
using the same password on one or two accounts, compared to
only 26 per cent of Baby Boomers. Millennials, having grown up
with technology, simply tend to trust it more. Baby Boomers don’t
have that trust.
With that in mind, it’s clear millennial cyber carelessness is a
huge liability for employers. Organizations must dedicate sig-nificant
resources to cybersecurity training to mitigate the risks
created by these bad habits.
HOW MILLENNIALS HARM CYBERSECURITY
Millennials may have become close with technology during
their childhoods, but that relationship didn’t always go hand-in-
hand with lessons about the downsides of the internet.
Here are some areas where younger employees can make safer
■■ Ignorant link-clicking: Since far more millennials own
smartphones (92 per cent) than Baby Boomers (67 per cent),
they’re ready to look up information at the drop of a hat. This
access also leads to careless clicking on potentially malicious
links. Whether via email or a quick search, more than half
(57 per cent) of millennial employees admit to clicking links
without ever checking where they lead.
■■ Careless passwords: All internet users have been guilty of falling
back on an easy-to-remember password. However, the arrival of
alternatives such as biometric passwords and password manager
apps ushers in a new era of security. The trick lies in getting
younger professionals on board with these measures: Only 40
per cent of millennials use biometric passwords, compared with
65 per cent of Baby Boomers.
■■ Dangerous conveniences. Voice assistants have shot to
popularity in the past two years and millennials haven’t been
slow to embrace these previously unimaginable capabilities. In
2017, 43 per cent of millennials reported making a purchase
on a voice assistant in the past year. Despite the exciting
conveniences, nearly a quarter of employees suspect their voice
assistants are easy targets for hackers – and only three per cent
take their fears seriously enough to ditch their devices.
SAFE PRACTICES AND POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
Employers have both the responsibility and capability to train employ-ees
in safe practices, but they must start early – and revisit often.
Any new employees should be subjected to thorough cyberse-curity
training as a part of their required onboarding, especially
as the share of millennials on staff grows. If they’re immediately
made aware that stringent cybersecurity habits are a part of com-pany
culture, they’ll be much more likely to adhere.
Ensure that the organization’s internal cybersecurity messaging
isn’t a one-and-done session – and training shouldn’t be limited
to new hires. An organization’s learning and development policy
should include cybersecurity refresher courses at least bi-annually.
Employees can be reminded of best practices, while also learning
about new developments in the cybersecurity space.
While millennials’ digital fluency may have given way to high
rates of cybersecurity malpractice, these bad habits don’t have
to continue if employers take the right steps. Pivoting organi-zational
culture around cybersecurity takes work, but the time
and resources are well worth the investment. When smart cyber-security
behaviours become habit for millennials – as well as
employees of all ages – the organization will reap the benefits of a
more secure and productive future. n
Francis Dinha is co-founder and CEO of OpenVPN.
A FULL HALF OF
TO USING THE
ON ONE OR TWO
ONLY 26 PER
CENT OF BABY
64 ❚ FEBRUARY 2019 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL