phone-red Call us about IT Support in London 020 7572 0000

Gen Z likeliest to practice poor password hygiene

Byte-size Bulletin by Rachael Brown in Security, Security First Mindset on Jul 12, 2021

Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 15.16.28

We all know the established wisdom that today’s up and coming generation, Gen Z, is more digitally interconnected and tech savvy than any before them.

You can't deny, the speed at which children and teens can master MacBooks and triumph over tablets is honestly astonishing.

Despite this proficiency using devices, Gen Z has a lot to be desired on the security front. In fact, according to multiple studies Gen Z are the least cyber secure generation of all. 

The term Gen Z refers to people born between 1997 and 2015. So, in essence those who have grown up in what experts call the Internet age.

They, along with other generations including Baby Boomers (those born 1946-1964 ) and the Silent Generation (those born 1928-1945) were the recent subjects of a cyber security survey by Beyond Identity which explored how people use, change and interact with passwords. 

The results across the board signal depressing news for security analysts, especially so for the youngest generation of adults. 

Of all respondents, two-thirds are happy to share their password with their spouse, 57% with their significant other, and 43% with their parents. One in four users would even give up their login details to a co-worker or roommate, despite the serious ramifications that could cause. 

20% of respondents also confessed they stored their passwords on paper, in computer documents and in phone notes, despite years of being told not to. Most survey respondents claimed they just memorised their passwords, never documenting them in any form.

These bad practices increased in the survey when it came to those from the youngest generation. 

One in four Gen Z subjects admitted to reusing passwords across multiple different accounts, with three in four claiming they have had at least one password breached, but done nothing about it. This of course is a major cyber security risk as it makes it so much easier for a cyber criminal to compromise not one, but multiple personal accounts. 

Recycling and reviving passwords was also a major concern, with an alarming one in five of all people updating a crucial password only once a year. Those born in the late 1990s or early 2000s were 10% less likely to update it even once a year. 

By contrast, Baby Boomers and older generations were the most responsible, with over a quarter of respondents reporting they were unlikely to reuse a password.

Why is it? It probably isn't, as I'm sure a lot of older people would agree, because Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation are secretly more attuned to tech.

Some may propose it's because they are older and therefore more cautious and responsible, but that operates under a lot of stereotypes concerning age, and ignores another major factor in this reality. 

These generations have not grown up with the Internet. For members of Gen Z Internet use is habitual, starting for many from when they were small. Many teens and young adults have essentially grown up online, seeing it as a place of comfort, community and connection.

For the older generation, one of whom falls victim to a scam every forty seconds, there is greater potential for them to regard it as a threat or source of danger, a perception which fuels greater hyper vigilance towards security. 

This lax security among Gen Z when it comes to passwords is a major problem for companies seeking to hire from the crop of new and upcoming talent. A Ponemon Institute study found in 2021 cyber security incidents cost businesses over £2.9 million.

And one of the biggest security risks remains the passwords you and your employees use every single day. 

So, before you start searching for that new star to brighten up your business, you may want to consider making some cyber security training a part of your induction.

Educating and protecting your staff will drastically reduce the risks you face, and help employees to work with you, not against you, on cybersecurity threats. 

Thanks to Adobe Stock for image.


Subscribe to our Bulletins

Free Download

Is IT a bottleneck to your company’s growth?

Discover how small business IT support can be a strong ally in making you more productive and competitive.

Download Ebook