You might think the people who grew up in an Internet-connected world would be the ones best prepared to cope with the dangers it presents. But no, new research reveals that 18-24 years old, the so called Generation Y, are actually highly likely to ignore advice about risky behaviour online despite claiming to know most about online safety.
The research commissioned by RSA suggests that when it comes to online life, convenience trumps security as far as most young adults are concerned. Indeed, it even reckons that this risky online behaviour is negatively impacting their future career prospects and financial standings as well as leaving them vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
More than 1000 people between the ages of 18 and 24 were polled regarding their online activity and the security precautions they take. Over seven out of ten of them admitted they are not always as careful as they should be when posting and accessing information online, and they regularly make risky choices when engaging in activities such as file sharing and social networking.
The study suggests that while young adults understand the mounting risks associated with unsafe online habits, they are not taking the appropriate actions to change those behaviours, leaving themselves vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. While 73 percent of survey respondents acknowledge concern about being a victim of online fraud or identity theft, 71 percent also admit that despite good intentions, they are not always as careful as they should be when it comes to their personal online safety. More than 50 percent of all respondents admitted to both using the same password for all of their online accounts and staying logged in to their personal sites to avoid the time and hassle of logging-in every time. Additionally, more than 75 percent of those surveyed said most people their age are willing to accept more risk when purchasing items online in return for lower prices.
The results also point to risky online behaviour increasing the exposure to threats that potentially can have long-lasting negative effects on financial history, credit scores and housing opportunities. However, 55 percent of those surveyed indicate they never check their credit report, and 35 percent do not always check bank records after making online purchases. Moreover, 31 percent of those surveyed admit they do not always take steps to verify a website is legitimate before submitting credit card information. The survey also polled young adults regarding their online behaviour and how it may affect job searches, finding that while 76 percent indicate they are currently or soon plan to begin searching for a job, and 67 percent have posted inappropriate content, photos, and/or videos involving cigarettes, drugs, alcohol and sex online, which could potentially limit employment opportunities.
"The irony of these findings is that the generation that has grown up with the greatest percentage of its life knowing technology and the Internet and that claims to know about the risks of technology is the one that is ignoring the good advice" said Sam Curry, Chief Technologist at RSA. "When you engage in unsafe or risky because in the virtual world, those risks can spill over into the physical world. Unlike people – who might forget with time – the Internet has a permanent memory and some members of Generation Y are learning this the hard way" Curry continues, concluding "many are aware they are neglecting basic security precautions when participating in online activities, such as social networking, and unfortunately are experiencing malware infection and other negative consequences to their identity and reputation as a result".