They may have a questioning nature and they may be tech-savvy, but Generation Y is creating a security nightmare for many companies out there.
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Phil Kernick, Director of Technical Assurance at CQR Consulting said developments such as the iPhone and social networking sites like Facebook revealed gaping holes in traditional security models, but also presented companies with significant opportunities.
“Traditional information security has relied on barriers, controls and hierarchy to enforce protection of information,” he said. “This paradigm is being supplanted by the Generation Y workforce – those born between 1978 and 1994 – who are demanding access in any way, at any time and from any place”.
“One problem is that the toys they love – MP3 players, USB drives, mobile phones – can be used to steal corporate data because of their tiny size and enormous storage capacity. Downloading music and video can be a copyright minefield for the employer if it’s done at work”.
Kernick notes that Generation Y offers their employers “a massive amount of upside, as long as they’re not afraid to grab it. The fact that something’s new doesn’t make it wrong. Funnily enough, when these managers started their job 25 years ago, the new practices they embraced probably freaked out the generation before them. The wheel keeps turning.”
“These guys are dubbed Generation Why,” noted Kernick. “They ask questions like: Why can’t I have open slather on everything? Why can’t I have as much bandwidth as I want? Why do I have restrictions on what I can do?
“Attitudinally, they are very different from their parents. For one thing, they don’t appreciate the need for privacy. They regard their lives as an open book and assume everyone else’s is too. They don’t understand that information put in the public domain can last forever.”
Phil said one of the great resources offered by Gen Y was their extended networks.
“With things like Facebook, they regard themselves as part of a community rather than as an individual,” he said.
“On the other hand, information sharing can equate to information leakage. While they are not afraid to ask questions if they don’t know something, information leaking like a sieve is real concern. While these are real risks, it’s not all bad news: There’s a terrific amount of upside for employers. You need to harness this energy.”