Summary:

Gen Y members may be natural telecommuters, as FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton Fell has claimed, but it appears their natural affinity for mobile work doesn’t come equipped with natural instincts for data security, at least if a new survey from Cisco is to be believed.

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Members of so-called Gen Y may be “telecommuting natives,” as FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton Fell has said, claiming “they just don’t see a building as a defining structure of where you do things,” but it appears this natural affinity for mobile work doesn’t come equipped with natural instincts for data security while nomadic, at least if a new report from Cisco is to be believed.

The company spoke with 2,800 college students and young professionals from more than 14 countries and found that familiarity with mobile devices and living your life online does not lead to greater caution. Quite the opposite. The survey found:

  • Thirty-three percent of young people do not mind sharing personal information online, believe privacy boundaries are loosening, or do not think about privacy.
  • Fifty-six percent said they have allowed others to use their computers without supervision — family, friends, coworkers and even strangers.
  • Sixteen percent admitted leaving personal belongings and devices unattended in public while getting something to eat or drink or going to the restroom.
  • Sixty-one percent believe they are not responsible for protecting information and devices, saying that this is IT’s responsibility.
  • Of those who were aware of IT policies, 70 percent admitted to breaking them. The most common reason was the belief that employees were not doing anything wrong (33 percent), followed by the need to access unauthorized programs and applications to get their job done (22 percent).
  • Thirty-six percent said they did not respect their IT departments.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given this generally lax attitude toward security and privacy, one in four young people will experience identity theft before the age of 30, according to the Cisco study.

Clearly, these numbers indicate there is some failure of communication between young, mobile, tech-savvy workers who were raised online and IT departments. The result is that many members of Gen Y fail to understand what positive role IT can play in organizations (besides that of killjoy sheriff) as well as fail to see the need for more care when it comes to their and their companies’ data.

Who has to change here: cavalier Gen Y, uncommunicative IT or both?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Lee J Haywood

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