Aruba Networks officials for more than a year have been tracking #GenMobile workers, the new generation of employees who are highly mobile, very collaborative and demand more flexible, non-traditional work environments.
It’s this workforce that’s driving such trends as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and always-on connectivity, and the workers are having an increasingly large impact on how organizations run their businesses.
According to a new study released by Aruba this week, the Millennial-based #GenMobile workforce also is ramping up mobile security risks for companies that appear to be increasingly unprepared for their new employees’ tendencies toward sharing devices and showing an indifferent attitude toward security.
For the study, titled “Security #GenMobile: Is Your Business Running the Risk,” Aruba officials interviewed more than 11,500 workers in 23 countries, finding disparities in risky behavior among age groups, earning levels, genders and regions. However, what the study determined is that businesses need to start addressing the mobile security risks that are coming with the employees that are entering the workforce, according to company officials.
“#GenMobile workers are flexible, transparent and collaborative, willing to take action to drive productivity and business growth,” Ben Gibson, Aruba’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “That said, these employees are also far more willing to share company data, and are notably oblivious toward security.”
In particular, Aruba officials found three trends that illustrate how Millennials’ risk-prone behavior is impacting organizations, for both good and bad. Six in ten of the #GenMobile workers regularly share their work and personal devices with others, and almost a fifth of them don’t have passwords protecting their devices. Twenty-two percent of those say they have no security measures in place for their devices so they can share them more easily.
Despite the growing number of devices they use and the focus on security from organizations and device vendors, #GenMobile workers ranked security as the fifth most important factor when buying a new device, behind brand and operating system. Eighty-seven percent said they assume their companies’ IT departments will keep them and their devices secure, and 31 percent said they had lost data because they misused the device.
Businesses also face workers with an indifferent view to authority, according to the survey. Fifty-six percent said they would disobey their boss to get something accomplished. Fifty-one percent said mobile technologies let them be more productive, and 77 percent said they would service their devices themselves.
The size of the problems varied among industries, regions and individuals, according to Aruba’s survey. Financial services firms showed a high risk of data leaks, with 39 percent of respondents from this segment admitting to losing corporate data by misusing their mobile device, which is 25 percent higher than the average for all industries. Meanwhile, high-tech employees are almost twice as likely—46 percent—than workers in the hospitality or education sectors to give up their device passwords when asked by IT staffs.
That said, educators are 28 percent more likely to store passwords on a sheet of paper than workers in high tech. They also are the least likely to use passwords to protect their personal smartphones.
Aruba Study Finds New, More Mobile Workers Pose Security Risks
Men are 20 percent more likely to have lost personal or client data because of how they use their smartphones, and 40 percent more likely to be victims of identity theft. Those workers between 25 and 34 years of age are most likely to have their data or identity stolen.
How much a person earns also impacts how security-focused they are. Those making more than $60,000 are more than twice as likely as those earning less than $18,000 to have lost corporate financial data, and 20 percent more likely to lose personal data due to device misuse or theft. That said, those making more than $75,000 were three times more likely to give out their passwords than people making less than $18,000.
The regions with the lowest-risk behaviors were such Western countries as the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden, while growth markets—like China, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates—have the highest-risk behaviors.
Overall, businesses need to do a better job preparing for an increasingly mobile and less-secure world, Aruba officials said. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed had no type of basic mobile security policy, and many aren’t enforcing basic security practices, illustrated by the fact that 18 percent of employees don’t protect their devices with passwords. If businesses can start managing their security more intelligently, they can take advantage of the benefits #GenMobile workers bring with their more flexible work and information exchange practices.
“Organizations should strive to build a secure and operational framework for all workers, rather than stifle them,” Aruba’s Gibson said. “These trends underline that #GenMobile employees continue to be a growing part of the everyday workforce, but they also bring with them some risky behaviors. In a contemporary connected world, firms need to nurture creativity, while at the same time minimizing the risk of data and information loss.”