Security Habits Differ Among Millennials, Baby Boomers

Despite a reputation for being less tech savvy than Millennials, 49 percent of Baby Boomers have antivirus solutions installed on their devices.

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While 95 percent of Baby Boomers and 85 percent of Millennials are concerned with their personal online security, Boomers are taking more steps to secure their mobile devices, according to a Webroot survey of 201 Millennials and 204 Baby Boomers in the United States.

Despite a reputation for being less tech-savvy than Millennials, 49 percent of Boomers reported they have antivirus solutions installed on their devices—10 percent more than Millennials (39 percent).

Grayson Milbourne, security intelligence director at Webroot, told eWEEK the most surprising finding from the study was that less than half of both Millennials and Baby Boomers use security software to protect their mobile devices.

"There are many web-based threats which users need to be protected from aside from malicious apps," he explained.

When asked what types of personal information they would be most concerned about if a mobile device was lost, both Millennials and Boomers (79 percent each) picked banking or credit card account information as their top choice, followed by social security numbers.

However, about half (49 percent) of Millennials were concerned about losing their social media usernames and passwords versus only a third of Boomers.

"I think Millennials feel invincible to online threats due to their younger age," Milbourne said. "As they get older they will feel more inclined to take security precautions to protect themselves."

While the overwhelming majority of Millennials said they want more security and data privacy, almost two-thirds (59 percent) share their personal travel plans on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

By contrast, 71 percent of Baby Boomers reported that they never share personal travel plans on social media—a difference in travel behavior that extended to mobile device loss.

While just 7 percent of Baby Boomers reported losing a mobile device during travel in the past year, almost three times as many Millennials (19 percent) reported losing a device. Both groups most often lose their devices in restaurants, cafes and bars.

"It is more the nature of social media and its attraction to young people. They just like to share everything," Milbourne said. "As they age, however, this should trend downward to share less data through social media."

Webroot suggests backing up mobile devices as an important defensive measure in recovering from attacks by cyber-criminals or device loss while traveling, and recommends that antivirus software is installed on mobile devices and that the subscription is current.

"An easy step is to take advantage of security software for mobile devices," Milbourne said. "This will protect against malicious apps and Websites, which can often masquerade themselves to trick a potential victim."