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Gen Y: The insecure generation?

Does the younger, more "tech-savvy" generation manage computer security more effectively, or do more mature individuals protect themselves better?
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Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributor on

Widespread adoption of digital media, mobile devices and an increasing dependence on technology in all facets of Western life -- from education to governance and business -- has resulted in a plethora of issues for both business and consumer.

From the consumer perspective, knowing -- or caring -- about how to protect the vast amount of personal and sensitive information stored online is increasingly important. For the business sector, how data is protected both on internal servers and on the move is concerning.

Enter Generation Y. Apparently "tech savvy", do they care about keeping their smartphones secure, where work document are stored, or how much information they send across social networks?

Who is more concerned -- Generation Y who apparently understands technology better than their older counterparts, or more mature individuals?

The following report, provided by ZoneAlarm, presents the results of a global survey of 1,245 PC users. It was conducted in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia during March this year. The aim of this study was to try and detect differences in attitudes towards personal computer security based on the generation gap.

In the report, "Gen Y" is defined as 18- to 25-year-olds, and "Baby Boomers" refers to 56- to 65-year olds.

The survey found that computer security appears to increase in priority with age. Only 31 percent of Gen Y participants rank security as the most important consideration when making decisions about their personal devices, whereas 58 percent of Baby Boomers ranked it highest.

Gen Y is also more likely to prioritize entertainment and community services, and only 20 percent stated they were "very concerned" about security. However, the survey did find that Generation Y were mostly worried about attacks through social networks and P2P sharing, whereas for Baby Boomers, email assaults -- such as phishing scams -- claimed the top spot.

generation y baby boomers online security

Ironically, we may not be as tech-savvy as we believe we are. 63 percent of Gen Y said they were knowledgeable about computer security, but half of them had experience a security issue -- whereas only 42 percent of Baby Boomers had come across a security breach in the past two years. However, when I think about my grandma refusing to use Amazon to purchase goods because of sending card details through the web in comparison to the age group who regularly enjoy downloading the next episode of Game of Thrones, it doesn't seem all that surprising. 

Worryingly, it seems both generations often choose convenience over safety when it comes to storing sensitive information. 84 percent say that they keep information including tax records, financial data and passwords stored on their personal computers. Among both, 71 percent do not use basic protection, including firewalls.

personal data stored computers rates

For more information, view the infographic below:

generation y computer security baby boomers


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