Generation Y Rebels Against Company Tech Rules

Businesses may spend time and money crafting company policies to regulate technology use in the workplace, but all bets are off when it comes to Millennials and personally owned devices, new research finds.

Fortinet, a unified threat management (UTM) company and high-performance network security provider, recently released a report revealing Generation Y's increasing propensities for breaking company policies on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), personal cloud storage accounts and wearable technologies.

According to the study, there has been a 42 percent increase in Millennials' willingness to break usage rules within the past year, with 51 percent of respondents admitting they would ignore company restrictions on the use of personal devices at work or for work purposes.

[What is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)?]

For personal cloud use, the study found that 36 percent would disregard policies against using their own personal cloud storage accounts for work purposes. The study also revealed that 70 percent of personal DropBox account holders have used their accounts on the job, many times in breach of company security: 12 percent admitted to storing work passwords in these accounts, 16 percent financial information, 22 percent critical private documents and 33 percent customer data. Of the personal-cloud users surveyed, only 32 percent actually fully trust the cloud for storing their personal data, the study found.

Emerging technologies were no different. Despite company policies prohibiting their use, 48 percent of respondents said they would still use emerging technologies like Google Glass and smartwatches in the workplace. Nearly half of respondents agreed that such wearable technology will become widespread at work or for work purposes, with 16 percent claiming it will be immediately widespread, and 33 percent saying the same if costs come down, the study found.

What is even more troublesome for employers is that, along with Generation Y's hardening stance against corporate BYOD policies, these workers have a high rate of security threat illiteracy. Although 55 percent of BYOD PC or laptop users, 19 percent of tablet users and 19 percent of smartphone users have experienced cyberattacks — most of which resulted in productivity, personal data and corporate data loss — more than half (52 percent) appear to be completely uneducated regarding security threats, the study found. These threats include Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, advanced persistent threats (APTs), Botnets and Pharming.

According to researchers, this situation presents an opportunity for companies to further train and educate employees on security threats and their impacts.

"It's worrying to see policy contravention so high and so sharply on the rise, as well as the high instances of Generation Y users being victims of cybercrime," said John Maddison, vice president of marketing for Fortinet. "The study highlights the greater challenge IT managers face when it comes to knowing where corporate data resides and how it is being accessed. There is now, more than ever a requirement for security intelligence to be implemented at the network level in order to enable control of user activity based on devices, applications being used and locations."

The silver lining is the direct correlation between BYOD usage and threat literacy — the more frequently employees use their own devices, the greater understanding they will have regarding security threats, the study revealed.

Most Generation Y respondents are also open to learning more about security threats. "On the positive side, however, 88% of the respondents accept that they have an obligation to understand the security risks posed by using their own devices," Maddison said. "Educating employees on the threat landscape and its possible impact is another key aspect for ensuring an organization’s IT security."

The global study surveyed 3,200 employees ages 21-32 in 20 countries.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.