Users go to extreme measures for Internet access

Seven out of 10 young employees frequently ignore IT policies, and one in four is a victim of identity theft before the age of 30, according to a global study from Cisco.

The findings reveal startling attitudes toward IT policies and growing security threats posed by the next generation of employees entering the workforce – a demographic that grew up with the Internet and has an increasingly on-demand lifestyle that mixes personal and business activity in the workplace.

The Cisco Connected World Technology Report is an international study that examines the next generation of workers’ demands and behavior involving network access, mobile device freedom, social media, and work lifestyles.

The findings are key in explaining how this next-generation workforce’s behavior heightens personal and corporate risk amid a complex threat landscape, a correlation that is spotlighted in more depth in the Cisco 2011 Annual Security Report, also issued today.

The latest findings from the Cisco Connected World Technology Report reveal growing concerns for employers. The desire for on-demand access to information is so ingrained in the incoming generation of employees that many young professionals take extreme measures to access the Internet, even if it compromises their company or their own security. Such behavior includes secretly using neighbors’ wireless connections, sitting in front of businesses to access free Wi-Fi networks, and borrowing other people’s devices without supervision.

Considering that at least one of every three employees (36%) responded negatively when asked if they respect their IT departments, balancing IT policy compliance with young employees’ desires for more flexible access to social media, devices, and remote access is testing the limits of traditional corporate cultures.

At the same time, these employee demands are placing greater pressure on recruiters, hiring managers, IT departments, and corporate cultures to allow more flexibility in the hope the next wave of talent can provide an edge over competitors.

Key findings:

  • Perhaps as a direct result of loosening privacy boundaries, about one in four college students (24%) and employees (23%) experiences identity theft before the age of 30. When applied to a broader pool of people, two of five college students said they know of friends or family members who have experienced identity theft. The following findings provide insight into the frequency of identity theft among this generation.
  • One in three (33%) college students globally does not mind sharing personal information online, believes privacy boundaries are loosening, or does not think about privacy, providing foreshadowing for how the next generation of the global workforce will address information online – perhaps for business as well as personal activities.
  • Of those who were aware of IT policies, seven of every 10 (70%) employees worldwide admitted to breaking policy with varying regularity. Among many reasons, the most common was the belief that employees were not doing anything wrong (33%). One in five (22%) cited the need to access unauthorized programs and applications to get their job done, while 19% admitted the policies are not enforced. Some (18%) said they do not have time to think about policies when they are working, and others either said adhering to the policies is not convenient (16%), they forget to do so (15%), or their bosses aren’t watching them (14%).



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