Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

Summary: Young professionals and college students are far more willing to go to extreme measures and break IT policies, reflecting all sorts of possible trends, according to new research from Cisco Security.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Cisco, Security
47

SAN BRUNO, CALIF. -- Cisco Security is publishing the third and final chapter of its Connected World Technology report, and the results might be uneasy for many IT managers and CIOs at large businesses.

Previous chapters, published in September and November of this year, revealed some startling figures about young professionals (under the age of 30) and college students, including that nearly half of college students prefer Internet to friends and dating as well as the notion that mobile devices are valued higher than bigger salaries.

This time, the focus is on how members of Generation Y view and respect IT policies. The biggest takeaway is that, for the most part, these demographics have little regard for most IT policies today.

Specifically, at least 70 percent of employees seven out of 10 young employees (70 percent) admitted to breaking policy with varying regularity. Furthermore, 80 percent of employees said that their companies' IT policies on social media and device usage are outdated -- or weren't sure if such a policy existed at all.

Cisco threat research manager Scott Olechowski posited that these numbers are startling not only because they reveal many trends that will affect businesses and enterprises moving forward, but also just because these employees were so willing to admit that they're breaking policies.

Here are the most common reasons as to why employees break IT policies, according to Cisco's latest report:

  • 22 percent cite the need to access unauthorized programs and apps just to get their job done
  • 18 percent admitted the policies are not enforced
  • 18 percent don't have the time to think about policies when they are working
  • 16 percent said it's not convenient
  • 15 percent forget
  • 14 percent do it when their bosses aren't watching them

Additionally, 30 percent of respondents said that social networking sites were completely prohibited (i.e. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter), making many survey participants feel out of step with their peers at other organizations.

"One of the underlying things that we saw are that the expectations of this younger workforce are different," Olechowski said, arguing that these kinds of policies are going to become a deciding factor in where people choose to work over time.

"You're making yourself less competitive over time to these generations," warned Olechowski.

While one could argue that younger generations usually ignore rules inherently anyway, Cisco senior security researcher Mary Landesman posited that there are other factors at play here that could explain the views and actions of Generation Y when it comes to technology and social media.

"This was the first generation weened on computers," added Landesman. "I think for the younger generation it's a necessary extension of their lives."

At the same time, Olechowski explained that we need to look at these policies and ask if they make sense, along with examining technologies that better help enforce IT regulations.

The survey results become even more disconcerting regarding the lack of concern for personal information online.

More than half (56 percent) of young professionals have allowed other to use their computers without their supervision, and even 86 percent of college students have done the same.

Furthermore, 61 percent of employees believe they're not responsible for protecting information on devices, while 16 percent of college students admitted to leaving personal belongings and devices unattended in public.

"Someone could be doing something nefarious on that machine, unsupervised," Olechowski remarked.

Even worse, one out of three college students revealed that they do not think about privacy nor do they mind sharing personal data online. These respondents also said that they believe that privacy boundaries are loosening.

Yet, one in four experience identity theft before the age of 30, while at least two our of five college students know of friends or family members who have experienced identity theft.

"To us, there is a disconnect here that people are sharing so much but they're seeing grave consequences," Olechowski said.

While these findings definitely reveal characteristics about these demographics in regards to technology and other serious matters, Olechowski reiterated that the findings from this report signal the beginning of major trends ahead for security and enterprises overall.

For reference, the Cisco Connected World Report is based upon the responses of more than 2,800 college students and young professionals in 14 countries.

Topics: Cisco, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

47 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Young Professional here...

    I think this one calls bull on the whole thing:
    22 percent cite the need to access unauthorized programs and apps just to get their job done.

    If the geriatric in the corner is in charge of what is authorised or not then we'd likely still be using IE6 on Win2K because "it just works".
    SuilAmhain
    • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

      @SuilAmhain Not to mention the line about "You're making yourself less competitive to this generation". We're in a down economy. Nobody is really hiring. You pretty much take the first (or only) job available to you.
      Aerowind
      • Think again

        @Aerowind <br>[i]We're in a down economy.[/i]<br><br>We're not in a down economy, we're in a NEW economy. A global, multi-national, corporate technocracy [s]led[/s] fed economy. You're now little more than a number, a global speck. Get that six-figure [first debt, then pay] Master's degree since little else counts, or get used to it.<br><br>The working stiffs who built this country can go cry a river under the nearest bridge.
        klumper
      • degrees of futility

        "Get that six-figure [first debt, then pay] Master's degree"
        which may allow you to work for up to 15 years in IT before you're dumped for the younger, cheaper, more pliant, even less ethical foreign and next-gen labor. Because "continuous learning" and "re-tooling" doesn't count as long as the labor supply remains excessive and growing.
        Professor8
      • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

        @Professor BINGO! But good luck with that knowledge you just let go out the door. Watched the younger generation come in here...they messed up (but hey they were CHEAPER) big time in front of marketing. So rather than join and experience IT person with a younger one they did the younger ones, since both can learn from each other. Just embarrassed the CIO. We see it with the "expert" consultants as well... Here the upper management has learned their lessons' albeit painful. The pendulum is swinging the other way. And I can tell you the older generation here are the 1st ones in the office and the last to leave. The younger ones feel it's the bankers hours.
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

        @Professor8
        @Professor BINGO! But good luck with that knowledge you just let go out the door. Watched the younger generation come in here...they messed up (but hey they were CHEAPER) big time in front of marketing. So rather than join and experience IT person with a younger one they did the younger ones, since both can learn from each other. Just embarrassed the CIO. We see it with the "expert" consultants as well... Here the upper management has learned their lessons' albeit painful. The pendulum is swinging the other way. And I can tell you the older generation here are the 1st ones in the office and the last to leave. The younger ones feel it's the bankers hours.
        ItsTheBottomLine
  • Even more brain dead than their corporate elders

    Some startling figures about young professionals:
    - [i]nearly half of college students prefer Internet to friends and dating[/i] = p0rn + facebook

    - [i]mobile devices are valued higher than bigger salaries[/i] = apples + nuts (only this mirage will vaporize once that glorious day arrives where they actually have to pay their own way)

    'Til then it's all good [then you learn to get in line like every other schmuck and do what the man says, laddies] ;)
    klumper
    • That's the whole problem...

      @klumper
      The little darlings have been raised to believe they are special and that the rules somehow don't apply to them. I guarantee that all of the companies that these "young professionals" work for have some sort of AUP in place (even if they work for some small start-up or mom-and-pop) which spells out what can and can't be done on the company network/PC/laptop/phone/tablet. I'm also sure that part of the paperwork that they signed when they were hired included a copy of said AUP. I know I did when I started the job I currently have. When they signed that agreement they made a binding contract with the company and can be punished accordingly by the company for violating the terms. There may also have been a confidentiallity agreement in the new hire package that, once signed is also binding (so they are responsible for keeping company data secure, they signed an agreement stating that they are!). But of course when these "young professionals" finally get fired for violating the agreements they signed they will whine that the policies weren't fair and it's wasn't their fault, boo hoo hoo! This sort of behavior is definately not professional as far as I'm concerned. And the argument that the policies are not enforced doesn't hold up either, really. Just because they haven't gotten busted yet for violating the agreements they signed doesn't mean that they won't eventually.
      SElizDav
  • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

    It appears accurately reporting the "facts" isn't a big deal, either...

    ???22 percent cite the need to access unauthorized programs and apps just to get their job done
    ???18 percent admitted the policies are not enforced
    ???18 percent don???t have the time to think about policies when they are working
    ???16 percent said it???s not convenient
    ???15 percent forget
    ???14 percent do it when their bosses aren???t watching them
    = 103%
    UrNotPayingAttention
    • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

      @UrNotPayingAttention
      Not mutually exclusive categories.
      x I'm tc
    • not mutually exclusive

      @UrNotPayingAttention [It does't add up to 100%.]
      These are not mutually exclusive categories, so one person could, e.g. say he neeeeded to use other apps to get his job done, and say he doesn't have time to think about policies, and say he also does such things when the boss is not watching.
      Professor8
  • Is it any wonder companies cannot find qualified employees?

    And they're going to find them from cultures who have better work ethics.<br><br><blockquote><p>Additionally, 30 percent of respondents said that social networking sites were completely prohibited (i.e. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter), making many survey participants feel out of step with their peers at other organizations.</p></blockquote><br><br>Gotta get that Facebook fix. Can't people go a few hours without checking in on their Facebook profile?

    BTW - ZDNet, your forums software sucks
    ye
    • Agree

      "You???re making yourself less competitive over time to these generations" sounds like a winner to me. Then we can target those potential employees who understand a workplace is a place for, umm, work.
      Richard Flude
      • Really?? We have to work at our jobs??

        @Richard Flude
        Get outta here!
        SElizDav
    • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

      @ye Whats Facebook?
      tclark200
    • forums

      "BTW - ZDNet, your forums software sucks" but at least, unlike many competitors (e.g. IDG, UBM, Wall Street Journal, NYTimes, SFChronicle, disqus, Chicago Tribune, San Jose Murk... which have broken theirs over the last couple years) it WORKS! Hooray!
      Professor8
  • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

    Kind of hard to call them "professionals" when they routinely break the rules.
    gribittmep
    • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

      @gribittmep Obeying a rule only because it exists is a poor reason to obey a rule.
      Rootsid
      • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

        @Rootsid

        May be true, but how many actually bother to find out why a rule exists? My guess is very few, as many take the "I have every gadget known to man, so I'm an IT expert" attitude and therefore they know better than people who are actually trained and paid to manage information security.
        TroyMcClure
      • RE: Young professionals more willing to break IT rules: Cisco

        @Rootsid

        I work at a company that administers health care for the US military. There are extremely strict security rules and breaking one will land your butt on the unemployment line faster than you know what hit you.
        gribittmep