In the words of Bob Dylan, perhaps one of the most insightful of the 1960s’ poet-musicians “the times they are a-changin’”. The generation he was speaking to then are now today’s retirees. And as one generation moves out of the workforce, another generation is recruited.
The latest generation of employees is generally referred to as “Generation Y” or the “Millennials.” Typically defined as those born after 1979, they are our first truly digital generation, completely at home with the internet, mobile and new modes of working. These are the new graduates, apprentices, office workers and manual labourers that have been joining your workforce for the past 15 years. Millennials have also been referred to as the “echo boomers” due to the huge size of their generation – 16% larger than the boomers. By 2020, it’s estimated that millennials will form almost 50% of the global workforce, and 75% by 2025.
According to a recent survey by Gallup, entitled “How Millennials Want to Work and Live”, the consumer millennial is the most aware of security risks around personal data, yet not that concerned about them. Millennials also have the most trust when compared to older demographic cohorts in the ability of companies to keep their personal information private. For example, when Gallup looked at their attitudes to institutions safeguarding their personal data, 67% of millennials surveyed had trust in their primary bank compared to 56% of other generations. These findings were repeated across many different verticals, such as government and telecom providers. If this trust in the security abilities of institutions and private organizations is extended to their attitudes about handling other people’s personal data and corporate information as an employee (“the security department will keep it safe”), do millennials represent an enhanced level of risk?
If you think about the way they interact with information, then this hypothesis may hold true. This is the generation where sharing data is ubiquitous and in many ways the cultural norm. The choices on offer for storing and sharing corporate information are mind boggling: enterprise file sync & share (EFSS) cloud applications such as Box, Dropbox and OneDrive; publishing to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn; or chatting and sending information via chat platforms such as WhatsApp, SnapChat, and Skype.
While there is little hard evidence proving that millennials are any more likely to breach data than their older colleagues, I would suggest that this tech savvy generation’s attitudes and modes of working deserve careful consideration and appropriate control. Implementing a data classification solution like TITUS is essential for fostering a culture of security by lifting all end users’ awareness and appreciation of the value of the data they are handling.