The Millennial Mindset vs Cyber Security and Data Protection

16 May 2018 | 10:02am

Millennial Amber Smith writes: In light of the recent Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data privacy scandal, I found myself more aware of what both I and others in the millennial generation were sharing impetuously. As a tech savvy generation, we are posing cybersecurity threats at a more significant rate in the workplace than arguably any generation before. This article examines the problem of - and a solution to the challenges raised by - cyber security, data protection and millennials. 

 

The problem:

Despite having many friends now in the workplace, our daily communication still continues via social media, on our own devices, during working hours. This I viewed as the norm: perceiving it as widely acceptable, unproblematic and harmless. However, following both work experience, which educated me in the GDPR and its importance, as well as the high-profile Cambridge Analytica Scandal, I have realised that many millennials are unthinking and neglectful with both the sharing of their own and other peoples’ or companies’ data.

For instance, in a recent history lecture at university, I opened some Snapchats in a group Snapchat from my friends who were at work. All of which were photos (Snapchats) mainly of their desktops or documents with captions on them expressing their hunger or fatigue. Initially the correspondence between friends of ‘I’m so hungry’ and ‘same I can’t wait for lunch’ seemed harmless. However, I realised that these snapchats were not harmless, because even when looking at the photos briefly, it was easy to see their client’s details and matters on their documents. This led to me realise that although this did not seem like a huge matter to my friends (none of us were likely to take in or do anything with the information) what they had not considered was how other people, for instance those sat around me in the lecture theatre, could also see, read and utilize it. It was a breach of data.

Therefore, although we are a tech-savvy generation, we are also naive of the full consequences of our technology related actions. We do not instinctively think about the repercussions; which are now so closely related to data protection both in and out of the workplace. Nor does everyone think about corporate and cyber security when they go to plug their own devices into company networks, or download certain apps onto company devices; ignoring company IT policies, whilst putting sensitive information at risk.

Although I have only briefly discussed a personal one-off experience, I believe that this highlights a much larger issue surrounding how employers need to deal with millennials and the matter of data protection and cyber security.  

 

Solution:

It is recognised that improved technology and increased funding within IT departments will improve cyber security and data protection within companies. However, from a millennial’s perspective, companies could improve their security and data protection management significantly through education. We are briefly educated on the importance of cyber security, data protection and the companies’ policies through introductory meetings and handbooks. However, from speaking to friends in the workplace, if employees, especially millennials could be educated both regularly in the workplace, and even before we enter it, whilst in school or college, then I believe we would gain a stronger awareness and be more vigilant surrounding the importance of strong cyber security and data protection. With our constant use of technology, this is an important matter which should be at the forefront of our and those of our employers’ minds; not something we disregard.

 

About the author:

Amber Smith is a student at Exeter University and the winner of Callington Chambers' 2017 Bursary Award.