All Generations, All Risks, All Contained: A How-To Guide

All Generations, All Risks, All Contained: A How-To Guide

Organizations must have a security plan that considers all of their employees.

Did you know that 55% of businesses are worried about the risk that millennials pose to their organization? According to a recent study from Ponemon Institute and Citrix, two-thirds of businesses know they can’t control all apps and devices, everywhere, all the time. The same study showed that millennials and members of Generation X are the most likely to circumvent security policies and use unapproved apps and devices in the workplace. 

It’s important for organizations to recognize that security vulnerabilities reach across generations — they don’t discriminate. So although some of us may be more vulnerable than others to certain attacks, it’s important for businesses to also have a security strategy that spans their full employee base. 

We each have a different view of security, whether that’s because of the technology we used as we grew up, the career path we chose, or how technology touches our daily lives. Regardless of how often we interact with technology, people need to understand their role in securing their own information and, as employees, keeping their company’s business information safe. Employees need to adopt a more security-minded and aware culture. Education programs need to teach the workforce to ask questions like, “How secure is my personal information? Am I vulnerable to an attack? Am I a weak link when it comes to my company’s business information?” Each person has a different answer to these questions.

The same Ponemon study found the following:

  • 55% of security and business respondents said that millennials, born 1981–1997, pose the greatest risk of circumventing IT security policies and use of unapproved apps in the workplace.
  • 33% said baby boomers, born 1946–1964,are most susceptible to phishing and social engineering scams.
  • 30% said Gen Xers, born 1965–1980, were most likely to exhibit carelessness in following the organization’s security policies 

We know the call to action is there, so how do we actually achieve this culture of awareness?

How to Create a Security-Aware Culture
Although cyber attacks from the last couple of years have drawn a significant amount of attention to security, we still have a long way to go teach employees and bring industries up to speed about security best practices. The demand for devices and anytime, anywhere access often becomes paramount to security fears these days. No one can afford to assume that a device or a network is inherently safe. Connecting to free airport Wi-Fi is one of the worst things to do, yet the hunger for data and connectivity that many people have makes them willing to put their digital lives and businesses at risk. 

The key to comprehension and adoption of this security-first mindset is fine-tuning awareness training so that it fits all age groups in our diverse workforce. Awareness must be role-relevant and make the concepts sticky and personal. Another annoying or mandatory training requirement only leads to a broader gap between security and reality. Effective communication blends multiple modes of media, current risks, and clear alignment with peoples’ work and home life.

There is no official timeline or work-back schedule for security training. The process is continuous.

How to Know You’re Successful
Monitoring the success of training and awareness programs is easier than you’d think. Are phishing attempts less successful? Have security-related help-desk tickets decreased? Has your company cut down on redundant security products (thereby reducing complexity)? Is your workforce asking more questions or flagging more potential holes?

Go back to the basics, practice them, enforce them. 

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Stan Black, CISSP, is CSO of Citrix where he is in charge of the secure delivery of applications and data to some of the world’s largest organizations in healthcare, financial services, public sector, and manufacturing. Black defines a converged cyber security posture … View Full Bio

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