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1/27/2015
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Chris Rouland
Chris Rouland
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WiIl Millennials Be The Death Of Data Security?

Millennials, notoriously promiscuous with data and devices, this year will become the largest generation in the workforce. Is your security team prepared?

As the 51 million members of Generation X begin turning 50 this year and start thinking about retirement, the Millennials (also known as Generation C for “Connected”) will be entering the workforce en masse with fresh ideas, optimism…and millions of unprotected connected devices.

According to Forrester Research, Generation Xers use technology strictly for convenience; they don’t consider it an integral part of day-to-day life. Millennials, on the other hand, were born in hospitals that attached digital security bracelets on them upon birth, which is an apt metaphor for how they now live. Millennials, says Forrester, are digitally integrated into the world around them at all times, both personally and professionally.

What’s interesting to me about the Millennial generation is while they are certainly tech-savvy, they have no interest in protecting their data. They will pay double for organic bread, preferring specialty stores to corporate grocery chains. But they place seemingly no value on the integrity and security of their personal identifiable information, let alone the consequences a hack could have on their friends, families, colleagues and employers. That’s not to say they are unaware of these consequences; they have access to more information than any other generation preceding them.

The Snapchat effect
The recent breaches of Snapchat and Yik Yak, two apps catering to Millennials, seemed to have had little impact on the population at large. While newsworthy for a moment, these breaches didn’t significantly lessen the use of either app. In fact, usage actually increased in the days and weeks following the “Snappening.” Leaked personal photos and private information seem to not just be tolerable in this demographic, but almost expected. There also appears to be a forfeiture of any sense of privacy. Is this an acceptable price to pay for the conveniences of being digitally connected? Worse, the fact that Millennials will become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce this year raises serious a slew of corporate security issues for the rest of the enterprise. 

While once disparate domains, Millennials merge their work and personal lives – and don’t see a problem using personal devices and applications for work and vice versa. According to a TrackIT survey, 60 percent of Millennials are not concerned with corporate security when they use personal apps, and 50 percent of them bring these personal apps into the enterprise. With data protection a top concern among organizations of all sizes, these statistics only spell trouble for corporate environments.

There is a clear dichotomy over the data security concerns of Millennials and the enterprises that employ them. It will be interesting to see what will convince this generation to get on board with securing their devices and following corporate protocols. Thus far, current policies, risk awareness, and the reality of threats to personal information do not seem to have any impact . So, what will override the convenience of connectedness? Certainly organizations will need to create policies to incorporate all connected devices. But that may not be enough.

One thing that is certain: enterprises are not going to loosen their security practices. They are only going to enhance them with new technologies or replace workers who will not adapt. As the Millennial generation begins to take over the workforce, it will be interesting to see if enterprises can succeed in communicating the importance of data security and get employees to act accordingly. That's a message that, up to this point, no breach, hack, threat or foe has been able to deliver.

Chris Rouland is a 25-year veteran of the information security industry and one of Atlanta's most respected technology entrepreneurs. Most recently, he founded Bastille, the only company focused exclusively on providing intrusion detection and vulnerability assessment for the ... View Full Bio
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ChrisRouland
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ChrisRouland,
User Rank: Strategist
2/2/2015 | 10:49:40 AM
Re: Ok Millennials, defend yourselves!
Great points, Pragmatic Security. There is a need for evolution in security, and while my point may have been originally intended to highlight the younger generations acceptance of looser privacy policies, that by no means, is to say that they're alone. Younger generations are more connected than ever and their connected devices will impact the corporate network. But, so will the fitness bands that HR gives out to cut insurance costs. This shift to an "always on" society means we need to rethink traditional security boundaries.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2015 | 6:26:21 PM
Re: More connected or less concerned?
@Pragmatic_Security: Yours has got to be perhaps my favorite comment on this site ever.  You're absolutely right.  Play the hand you're dealt rather than wring your hands about what the perfect end user should be like (especially when the end user knows little else than to give up some degree of privacy).
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2015 | 6:23:39 PM
Re: Ok Millennials, defend yourselves!
One interesting thing about those shady, spammy online pharmacies is that in many cases, they are very interested in providing good customer service and not compromising their customers because it's so important to them to be able to continue to accept major credit card payments -- and they don't want to be blacklisted.

(Incidentally, just started reading Brian Krebs's Spam Nation.  Fascinating stuff.)
Pragmatic_Security
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Pragmatic_Security,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/30/2015 | 2:38:33 PM
Re: Ok Millennials, defend yourselves!
Kelly,

Although do agree (I noticed I've been typing a superflous 'do' in front of everything... I'm becoming a flight attendant) "I'll just get a new debit card" is probably the pervasive attitude for user consumers, I wouldn't categorize it as a "consumer problem", or a "problem" at all.  I think it's a psychological norm based on evidence seen everywhere.

As I'm going to assume everyone in the room understands that the security of any financial information, PII, or PHI is only as secure as the third, forth, fifth, or sixth party that handles it.  One could practice 'reasonable and prudent due care' in all online financial transactions and stilll have a card compromised by an attack stemming from an unprotected endpoint at an HVAC service provider and a subsequent egregious lack of network segmentation at the target company... That can happen while I'm out buying mulch on a balmy Sunday afternoon, not just transactions surrounding counterfiet prescription drugs at canadianonlinepharmacy.ru.

As with the weather, certain forms of cancer, automobile accidents and plane crashes, it's not psychologically healthy to worry about things you can't control or predict. I'm going to keep blankets in my car, eat my fiber, wear my seatbelt, take my valium when I get to the airport, and I'll also uninstall JAVA and run EMET on my windows machines, but I can't stay up at night wondering when the next consumer credit card data breach will occur.  It's easier to tell myself "the bank will take care of it" when the bank actually does take care of it.  I know that my data will be breached at some point due to circumstances beyond my control, so I view everything I post online as public (forever), and subscribe to a credit monitoring service.  Simply the controls of worry and paranoia only yield marginal efficacy against the ALE of data breach.

Social media connectivity and the disappearance of privacy is something younger individuals take for granted (not always explicitly), and when they're running the world, they'll be the bosses with public instragram photos of them giving the duckface smile, clanging cosmo glasses together with her girlfriends at a nightclub... It's a changing sociological norm.

I'm a borderline millennial (although I detest the association...get off my lawn) and an information security manager.  Although people may think its weird, refreshing, or offensive to have a boss with large tattoos, sometimes peeking through rolled-up sleeves, I'm the boss, and my competence and caring about how they're developing as professionals and people carries through.

The internet-of-nouns is here to stay, let's adjust.


I sincerely do thank you for reading and understand you have many choices while reading comments, I sincerely appreciate the minute you've spent reading and hope you enjoy your stay in the new landscape of information risk management.  Please see the gate attendant/infrastructure lead for a list of connections.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
1/30/2015 | 12:06:34 PM
Re: More connected or less concerned?
Thanks for reposting @Pragmatic_Security. My fingers had a "proglem" with the keyboard and I accidently deleted your post, instead of approving it!
Pragmatic_Security
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Pragmatic_Security,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/30/2015 | 12:02:47 PM
Re: More connected or less concerned?
Thanks, Marilyn.

Original text (edit of my 'proglems' typo rejected)

As information security professionals, it's onus is on us to secure what people DO, not what WE WANT THEM TO DO.  

Individuals who have no memory of the world without the internet simply take a lack of privacy as a given. How can you blame them, given the deluge of breach, surveilance, and "CYBER APT BUZZWORD BUZZWORD" headlines bombarding twitter feeds and google news home pages?

As industry continues to move to a distributed, "As a service" model of technologies, we must adapt... This holds true to demographics in the workplace.  Trust boundaries change, BYOD networks completely logically segregated from the trusted corporate assets and strong network access control come into play.

Get with it guys, who doesn't want new proglems to solve?.. Isn't this the whole reason we got into the field?

 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
1/30/2015 | 12:00:06 PM
Re: More connected or less concerned?
That's often where the best innovation comes from! Thanks @Pragmatic_Security!
Pragmatic_Security
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Pragmatic_Security,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/30/2015 | 11:57:23 AM
Re: More connected or less concerned?
In my typographical errors I've invented a new, awesome word.. "Proglems".

'Proglems = Progressive Problems'

Sometimes when you fail, something awesome happens.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
1/30/2015 | 11:55:49 AM
Re: More connected or less concerned?
Get with it guys, who doesn't want new proglems to solve?.. Isn't this the whole reason we got into the field?

Definitely represents a lot of job security, for sure!
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2015 | 9:32:00 PM
Re: OK, Joe
Not to be pedantic, but the very nature of such generalization makes it ageist, just as one's prejudice would show if one made the same generalizations about race, ethnicity, religion, or whatnot.
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