On the surface, it may appear that Millennials have a very laissez faire attitude toward digital security. They ignore security protocols at work, and rarely regret what they post on social media. What’s more, a recent report indicates that Millennials put little trust in social networking sites to keep their data secure, but they continue to use the services anyway.
Perhaps the problem isn’t that Millennials don’t care, but rather that they have simply grown cynical with regard to the current systems that seem to offer little in the way of real protection. And the distrust is growing, according to a survey of more than 2,000 16 to 35 year olds in the U.S. and the U.K. from Atomik Research, commissioned by digital identity management software provider Intercede.
Among those surveyed, a quarter accessed more than 20 different password protected websites. Forty-five percent said they only changed their passwords when it was required and only six percent felt their data was secure based on the password policies of the websites accessed.
The report also pointed to a disturbing sense of insecurity among the survey respondents. Seventy percent of the respondents said they expect the risks to their digital security to increase; 31 percent expect this increase to be dramatic. This feeling of insecurity seems to be consistent among American consumers, with some companies blaming poor security hygiene among Internet users.
While consumers certainly bear some responsibility for their own data security, communications technology author and consultant Lubna Dajani argued that it’s time for companies to be more responsible with consumer data with which they’re entrusted. She noted that we are living in an increasingly digital world and painted a dystopian picture of what could happen if digital identity is compromised on a mass scale.
Dajani told Social Times:
Imagine if you wake up in the morning and your digital identity is gone or access to the internet has been compromised. If it happens to one, you could say it’s like lightning struck that person; they fix it and move on. But what if 50,000 people woke up and discover they’ve been compromised? We have global crisis.
It doesn’t seem that far fetched in the context of hacks on Target and Neiman Marcus in 2014, or the repeated breaches on Wyndham Hotels that resulted in $10 million dollars in fraudulent charges. Poorly maintained digital infrastructure also puts consumer data at risk. And while hactivism is intended to raise awareness, it poses a certain risk as well.
Rather than blaming consumers, Intercede founder and CEO Richard Parris said companies need to stop taking user trust for granted.
Parris said in a statement:
It’s time for organisations to stop playing fast and loose with what, in a digital economy, are our most important assets – our identity and our data. There seems to have been a collective consensus that Millennials will accept sub-standard security in exchange for online services. This clearly isn’t the case. The humble password should be consigned to the dusty digital archives where it belongs. To restore trust, smart companies need to look to stronger authentication techniques to ensure the future of digital commerce and information exchange and their own competitive edge.
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