Professional Monitor: in association with (ISC)2

Opinion

Are companies thinking about how young people's attitude to technology will affect their business when they come to join the workforce? If not, then they certainly should be.

Are companies thinking about how young people's attitude to technology will affect their business when they come to join the workforce? If not, then they certainly should be.

There is a strong possibility that the online behaviour of young people today will affect how they behave as employees in the future, says Tim Wilson, a volunteer member of the (ISC)2 Safe and Secure Online programme, which teaches 11- to 14-year-olds how to protect themselves on the web. “An understanding of their attitudes, along with measures to correct them, are crucial to the security of enterprises – after all, today's kids are tomorrow's employees,” he adds.

“For instance, youngsters are uninhibited in giving out personal information – a sign that they treat online security differently to physical security,” Wilson says. “Also, they have no qualms about circumventing parent and school authorisations to access social networking sites, including proxy websites. In light of this, there is a high likelihood that kids will take this mindset to the work environment as well. Similar to flouting parental control, ignoring company policy may not be considered a serious offence by them.”

Wilson, who regularly surveys the behaviour of the children participating in Safe and Secure Online, suggests: “As part of the workforce, there is a strong possibility that they will habitually have difficulty separating the use of social networking for work from private use. This could potentially translate into a workforce prone to data leaks. Further, children who easily make callous, ill-judged personal comments online about their school mates today may demonstrate similar poor judgement about the comments they make about their employers, peers or customers.”

One solution, Wilson says, is to add a personal touch to security awareness training. “Employees are parents and family members too – involving them in increasing awareness of the perils of a careless attitude to online security among youngsters will also make them think about their own approach to security in the workplace, culminating in a more diligent and conscientious attitude towards their own   accountabilities, while encouraging them to monitor more of what is going on at home and discussing issues with their children.”

Wilson adds: “This approach brings the overarching issues and their potential impact closer to home and motivates behavioural change by using a cognitive approach, as opposed to the more generic messages focused on why IT security is important.”

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