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Are today's young people Generation I (for insecure)?

Posted on 19 Sep 2012 at 09:40

Davey Winder discovers a worrying attitude to security among 18 to 25-year-olds

Check Point, the firm behind ZoneAlarm, published a report revealing interesting variations in how security is perceived and applied by different age groups. This Generation Gap in Computer Security report looked at attitudes of Generation Y (18 to 25-year-olds) versus baby boomers (56 to 65-year-olds) and its results were surprising.

Generation Y users were surer of themselves concerning IT security than baby boomers, but had experienced more security problems over the past couple of years than the latter. In fact, the research suggests 78% of younger users don't follow best practices when it comes to computer security, while baby boomers are twice as likely to install and use security software.

This could prove more problematic for the UK than the other regions covered, since it was here that reported security breaches over the past two years peaked at 67%, compared to 57% in Australia and 50% in Canada, Germany and the USA.

Perhaps the problems for Generation Y users are due to poor prioritisation, since they value entertainment and community above security – only 31% of them placed security at the top of their list compared to 58% of 56 to 65-year-olds. Combine this with overconfidence when it comes to their perception of risk, and you're asking for trouble, especially if you throw in cost. Some 45% of Generation Y users think security software is too expensive, and are far less likely to use antivirus and third-party firewalls, for example.

Of course, there are free security suites available that perform very well in a domestic setting, and would almost certainly lead to a lowering of those infection rates were these people to use them.

Assuming a Windows 7 platform – more specifically Windows 7 64-bit, which is pretty well the norm in both the domestic and small-business circles I frequent nowadays – it's easy enough to ward off malware and phishing attacks by installing Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender, together with keeping everything you use properly patched and updated. That goes a long way towards mitigating most threats, for most people, and it costs nothing. Using Gmail as a spam filter helps keep most of the archived malware attachments off your PC as well.

It’s even possible to defend against oft-used DNS redirects that send your browser off to a drive-by exploit site, should something nasty sneak past your initial defences. Both OpenDNS and Google Public DNS are free DNS services that can bolster your security. For example, OpenDNS offers a phishing filter and domain blocking with typo correction.

This kind of secured DNS, with free options that are perfectly adequate for most users, simply requires you to type the relevant DNS server addresses ( and respectively) into the DHCP server settings dialog of your router and let it deal with everything connected to the network.

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User comments

Hardly surprising...

... given that Generation Y are more likely to be involved in on-line activities known to be a greater risk. Particularly the use of P2P sites and the reported more frequent use of pornographic sites by the younger generation, both significant risks for malware, intrusion attempts and viruses.

By skarlock on 19 Sep 2012

U for uncaring

The way to go from all the media houses is "online" and "Cloud Computing".

This negates security from the point of the user and puts all onus onto the software houses.

Unfortunately it is the Software Houses that keep losing (or selling)personal and private data that is the problem. Recently many companies have been placing extras into their terms and conditions of service. Exclusions of liability that waiver any laws.... as terms and conditions of using their services.

Not exactly legal but you can not use their services if you do not abide by them?

By lenmontieth on 19 Sep 2012

What are ...

'archived malware attachments'? I don't understand the archive bit.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my last sentence may be some sort of smart arsed pun but I'm not clever enough to be know ... I'm sure I've heard of an archive bit in some other IT context.

By slyme1 on 19 Sep 2012

Does it just mean ...

a zip file?

By slyme1 on 19 Sep 2012


No, he meant old emails held on the mail server for posterity.

If they weren't removed by a spam/malware filter when they arrived, they could still be lurking much later.

I've had mail servers, which never had malware detection on them and when I took over, I ran a corporate malware tool over the Exchange database and it came up with several thousand positives, dating back several years!

By big_D on 24 Sep 2012

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Davey Winder

Davey Winder

Davey is a contributing editor to PC Pro, having covered the internet as a topic since the magazine started in 1994. Since that time he's won numerous awards for his journalism, but remains a small-business consultant specialising in privacy, security and usability issues.

Read more More by Davey Winder


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