A generational view on online security

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Data breaches, cyber-attacks, and overall online security have become everyday news in today’s technologically-lead world. This is precisely why internet users need to stay alert when it comes to protecting themselves and their online data. In 2017, Verizon did a report on data breach, which revealed that 81% of data breaches involved weak or stolen credentials. This reveals that people need to learn a bit more about secure password practices and their overall online behavior.

Online security has become a global issue that concerns all generations, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. But despite the general concern, each generation seems to have different habits regarding password management and cybersecurity.

Baby Boomers (Ages 55+)

Baby Boomers are not as clueless as most people would think when it comes to online security. Most of them state that they put quite a lot of thought when choosing their online password and use more than 10 distinct passwords for their online accounts. This is probably why they are less of a target when it comes to hacker activities. They are also less likely to share online accounts with other people or reveal their passwords, no matter the case, as opposed to millennials who use shared Netflix accounts along with their friends.

When it comes to email spams, baby boomers are more likely to verify the sender before opening any email and are able to recognize phishers much faster. This could be due to the fact that they use less online platforms or websites and can keep track of their accounts much better. So being less tech-savvy turns out to be quite an advantage for baby boomers.

online security generational
When it comes to mobile passwords, Gen X members seem to be less concerned than millennials, with most of them stating they do now use a password for their devices.

Generation X (Ages 35-54)

More than 85% of Gen Xers seem to be concerned about their password security, which makes them the second most concerned generation, after Millennials. But, in terms of hacker attacks, they are the most worried ones. This makes them put a lot of thought into creating their passwords and revealing their personal information online. They also seem to spend a lot less time online, mainly because of their career-focused and stressed lives. When they do spend time on the internet, they seem to be using very strict social media privacy settings and are very careful about what type of information they share with their online friends.

When it comes to mobile passwords, Gen X members seem to be less concerned than millennials, with most of them stating they do now use a password for their devices. When asked, Gen Xers state that their email passwords are the second most important data they have to protect, after their social security number.

Gen Xers seem to also be very concerned about the government snooping around their emails and believe the boundaries have long been overstepped. Same goes for corporate monitoring, which most of them find concerning and out of bounds and would not tolerate an employer who snooped on their private emails or online activity.

Millennials (Ages 23-34)

The most concerned about their online security seems to be Millennials, who are always on the looks for new software or devices that help them keep their personal information away from hackers. Most millennials use 3 to 5 distinct passwords for their online accounts and most of those passwords include both lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers and other special characters, just as experts recommend.

Millennials deserve another pat on the back for being the biggest users of two-factor authentication methods, such as SMS or email codes. Besides that, millennials are also concerned with revealing personal information on the internet or talking to unknown people. In order to be safer, some of them have admitted to using various software, such as reverse phone lookup, to find out if the people they find on dating sites or social media are who they claim to be.

Their concern regarding cybersecurity seems to come from the fact that, when asked, most millennials believe they are or have been a target for hackers. Because they are more interested to be up to date with the latest news, they seem to be aware of data breaches that have happened in the last few years.

Generation Z (Ages 13-22)

The most confident about keeping their online data safe seems to be Gen Z members. In fact, more than 64% of them claim to have never been hacked and more than 40% believe they don’t represent a target for hackers. Are they less aware of the danger, or simply better at keeping their credentials secret?

A study revealed that 32% of Gen Z members don’t really put too much thought into their passwords and admit to having one or two password options that they use for all of their online accounts. Considering the fact that they have practically been born with technology in their hands, these habits are quite concerning.

The main concern of Gen Zers seems to be personalization, rather than privacy. Most of them have stated that they would have no issue sharing personal information, in order to get a more personalized online experience. In fact, most Gen Z members have stated that they would not be visiting a website twice, if it did not provide custom-tailored experiences.

While personalized experiences are much welcomed by everybody using the internet, it should not mean, however, that people should be less concerned about how and why their data is being used. Young people seem to be a bit too confident about their online security and, while they strongly affirm that they would not fall for a phishing scam, less than half of them know what phishing actually means.

While each generation seems to be aware of the potential online security trends, the most concerned ones seem to be both Millennials and Generation X members, who are very careful about what they share with the online community. On the other hand, Generation Z members seem to be quite confident they are not an active target to hackers and would trade their privacy for a more personalized online experience.

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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