Cybersecurity Isn’t Generational: Why Millennials May Not Be the Tech Hope of the Future

Young woman with laptopOf all the assumptions made and beliefs held about millennials, one of the most common is that they’re uniquely tech-savvy. After all, this is the first generation to grow up being exposed first to the advent of computers and the Internet, and now to smartphones, tablets and always-on connectivity.

So it’s no surprise that governments have been banking on these digital natives, who practically eat, sleep and breathe technology, to become their cybersecurity saviors. Who better than the first 24/7 tech generation to demonstrate a keen understanding of the current threat landscape and the technical skills necessary to implement the best defense-in-depth measures to counter those threats?

Unfortunately, that may be little more than a pipedream, if a new survey is any indication.

That report, “Securing our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap,” released by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Raytheon, identified a significant cybersecurity awareness gap among millennials worldwide – specifically, respondents between the ages of 18 and 26, hailing from countries like the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan. Despite the presumption that millennials would be naturally more predisposed to grasping and deploying best practices for cybersecurity, as well as pursuing cyber careers to do so, many of them sound alarmingly out of touch. Here are just a few of that survey’s findings:

  • Close to 80 percent had neither spoken with a cybersecurity professional before or weren’t sure if they had done so
  • 69 percent felt that their high school computer classes hadn’t prepared them for a cyber career
  • 67 percent said they hadn’t heard about any cyberattacks in the news over the past year
  • Two-thirds said their high schools or guidance counselors had never broached the subject of entering a cyber career

As Col. Todd Glanzer, the U.S. Air Force’s chief cyberspace force development officer, points out to Nextgov, this is the same pool of candidates that the military and government recruit from. In other words, the future of cybersecurity professionals lies in the hands of a generation that, despite their tech-savviness, is completely divorced from the reality of cyber threats and security practices today.

But as troubling as this skills and awareness gap looks on paper, it does offer a sobering reminder that there’s no age limit when it comes to defense-in-depth security measures. Millennials aren’t the end-all, be-all solution to cybersecurity, and likely neither is Generation Z.

Remote access VPNs, encryption and firewalls may not be new and sexy, but unlike young and inexperienced millennials, these solutions have proven themselves time and again as the trusted and reliable core foundation for managing cybersecurity – practices that can deployed right now, by anyone, regardless of age.

You don’t need to wait for millennials to come of age – and as this report highlights, nor should you – to take control of your cybersecurity.

Read More:

IT Security? “Yes Please,” says Uncle Sam – But Offers No Tangible Help

The Lessons of Cybersecurity Awareness Month and What to Expect in the Year Ahead

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