As millennials become an increasingly significant component of the federal government workforce, it is imperative that federal agencies adjust existing cybersecurity policies and protocols to accommodate the generational shift, according to a new survey by cybersecurity firm Forcepoint.
Forcepoint commissioned a survey with LaunchTech in July 2016 in an effort to better understand how millennial online behaviors will impact the US federal government in the future. The survey polled 670 millennials, which the report broadly defined as those individuals born between 1977 and 1994.
The survey revealed that millennials engage in a number of risky online behaviors including using personal devices and accessing social media at work, using public Wi-Fi to pay online bills, and reusing the same passwords. Alarmingly, 54 percent of respondents care more about Internet speed than security.
“Beyond the security of the apps and devices employees bring to federal networks, agencies should also look at employee motivations, taking into account both productivity gains and potential security risks,” said Forcepoint’s Chief Strategy Officer and Federal Division President, Ed Hammersla.
In an effort to attract more millennial talent, many federal agencies are making adjustments to adapt to millennial behaviors. The small group of federal security officers surveyed said these changes could be putting public and private sector organizations at risk. Millennials can quickly become an insider threat if agencies fail to strike a balance between security and flexibility.
“For the federal government, the millennials’ ‘adjust to us’ mentality raises significant security implications,” the report stated. “These digital natives almost always have a device at their side, and the line between personal and business use is very blurred.”
In response, federal agencies need to design real-world security protocols and policies tailored to the millennial workforce. The report also recommended implementing an insider threat program that balances privacy and visibility, and introducing flexible work schedules and data access on mobile devices.
“The data resulting from the survey highlights important attitudes and risk factors that can help agencies adapt cybersecurity programs with millennials in mind, fully capitalizing on their creativity and energy while preventing them from becoming accidental insider threats,” said Hammersla.