Home & Office

Are Generation Y 'careless' in their use of Wi-Fi?

Are the iGeneration considering the full security implications of free wireless networks?
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Public Wi-Fi services are being expanded across the West -- from entire cities using smart grid technology to support wireless connection for its citizens, to stores offering access to the Internet in return for buying a coffee or book.

However, do the younger generation consider the security implications of using such networks?


Apparently, the younger generation may not.

In its bi-annual Security Index survey, Unisys has highlighted that while the use of public Wi-Fi is on the rise, the security concerns of certain age groups may not be reflected in reality.

The 18 - 34 age group in New Zealand was found to be more likely than any other generation to take advantage of free public Wi-Fi. Almost half of respondents -- 45 percent -- stating they have used such services in the past year.

In the survey, 15 percent of this age group in NZ stated they had performed work-related activities through free wireless networks, which was twice as many as those aged 35 years and over. However, it was the younger group which also demonstrated the most concern about personal security -- 70 percent of which stating they were "extremely" or "very concerned" about protecting their data and preventing unauthorized access.

In Australia, the trend of using free, public Wi-Fi networks stands firm -- but young Australians are likely to be the least concerned about the misuse of their personal information in contrast to young New Zealand citizens.

54 percent of Australians aged 18-34 years had used free public Wi-Fi in the last year, in comparison to 32 percent of respondents aged 35 years and over. In Australia, the national average of those very concerned about unauthorized access to their data is 54 percent according to the survey -- and only 44 percent of the younger age bracket demonstrated this concern.

As Computerworld notes, there does appear to be a slight bias toward a lack of attention by 18 - 34 year olds. Unisys said:

"Those aged 18-34 years are less likely to take precautions (62 percent [not taking adequate care]) than the average, and significantly less than those aged 35-49 years (52 percent).

"They are slightly more likely to take precautions than those aged 50+years (63 percent) but that could be because those aged 50+ years don’t use mobile devices or the internet as much as younger people."

If young people insist on using free, public Wi-Fi services, then they must consider using appropriate precautions. Some ways to achieve this include locking portable devices with complex passwords, using virtual private networks (VPNs) when possible to protect sensitive company information and remaining up-to-date with security software and patches.

Image credit: Wayda Dreamscape


Editorial standards