Millennials take responsibility for their own cybersecurity

Deborah Salmi, 1 October 2014

Millennials take responsibility for their own cybersecurity

A new trend has started – people are taking responsibility for their own safety online!

ncsam_facebook_cover_photo_2014 AVAST Software is a "champion" and supporter of NCSAM.

Last October when National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) was getting started, it was reported that the incoming workforce of millennials was lax about cyber-risks. They engaged in risky online behavior like:

  • Connecting to unprotected public WiFi networks
  • Using a storage device that wasn't their own
  • Sharing a password with a non-family member
  • Never changing their online banking password

2014 brings more awareness among “Digital Natives”

For this year’s NCSAM, a new survey was done by defense contractor Raytheon in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. It showed that awareness of online safety is rising, with 70% of millennials saying they follow cybersecurity concerns and are up-to-date on the topic. Eighty-seven percent believe they are personally responsible for their online safety.

Millennials are known as the “Facebook generation” or “Digital natives” because they grew up in the “digital age” with internet-connected devices. But just because they were born after the digital age began, doesn’t mean they were any more concerned about security than the so-called digital immigrants who had to replace analog skills with digital. But this year, maybe because of the high profile data breaches that have occurred repeatedly, millennials are concerned about their devices being infected by malware, credit or debit card theft, someone hacking into financial information, or falling victim to online scams or fraud.

While many are aware of the risks – roughly 60% have experienced some sort of online violation - identity theft, a computer virus, or a bad experience on social media – they’re still engaging in some risky behaviors, such as 72% using public WiFi that doesn’t require a password.

Interestingly enough, this increased awareness is also driving interest in a career in cybersecurity with millennials expressing a desire to make the Internet safer and more secure. The problem is that almost two-thirds of the total don’t know or aren’t sure what the “cybersecurity” profession is.

Building_Tomorrows_Cybersecurity_Workforce-NCSAM2014

STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

For millennials and everyone else, improving cybersecurity involves absorbing the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. message: Take a few safety precautions, understand the consequences of behaviors, and enjoy the Internet with more peace of mind.

To stay safer and more secure online everyone should:

  • Keep a clean machine. Keep software up-to-date on all Internet-connected devices to reduce risk of infection and malware.
  • Get two steps ahead. Switch on two-step verification or multi-factor authentication wherever offered to make your accounts more secure.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email, posts, and texts are often the ways cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.
  • Think before you app. Understand and be comfortable with what information (i.e., location, your contacts, social networking profiles, etc.) the app would access and share before you download it.
  • Use a better password. Improve your defenses by making passwords that you can remember, are hard to guess, preferably use numbers, capital and lowercase letters and symbols and are different for all accounts.
  • Post only about others what you would have them post about you. It’s the golden rule on the Internet, too.

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