Why is intergenerational collaboration critical in advancing zero trust security progress?

Baby Boomers play a critical role in accelerating zero trust security frameworks due to experience in integrating legacy technologies into cloud and hybrid IT environments, an Appgate study reveals.

accelerating zero trust security

The study, based on desk research and in-depth focus groups conducted by prominent intergenerational issues author and speaker Henry Rose Lee, examines differences between Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials and ways to harness individual strengths to develop more effective cybersecurity strategies. Key findings include:

  • As workers aged 50 – 66 (state pension age) exit the labour pool at a rate of one in 10 now versus one in 25 before the pandemic, risks can increase due to lost expertise in securely integrating legacy IT such as mainframes into modern hybrid IT
  • However, 80% of IT Boomers say they would return as consultants, helping fill the widening global cybersecurity skills gap of over 4 million unfilled jobs
  • Gen-Xers can bridge generational gaps by playing a pivotal role in distilling and bridging the experience and expertise of Boomers and Millennials
  • Millennials—whilst often more tech savvy—tend to move quickly, look for fast solutions and may balk at the time it takes to implement stronger security controls

According to Rose Lee: “Mixing older and younger generations within cybersecurity teams balances the digital savviness of youth with the wisdom and experience of age. The Millennials’ first-adopter appetite can often lead them to look for time-saving shortcuts that results in more cybersecurity risk. Boomers have higher emotional intelligence and a firefighter’s intuition for things that don’t look or feel right making them crucial cybersecurity defenders. Sitting in the middle, Gen-Xers can be the conduit to ensure back-and-forth collaboration and knowledge transfer across teams.”

Commenting on the study, Jawahar Sivasankaran, President and COO, Appgate, added: “The cybersecurity industry has suffered for many years from a shortage of skilled employees and the gap widens every day. This report highlights the importance of retaining important technical skills, especially as we transition more legacy systems securely to the cloud.

“Organizations should consider incentivising Boomers to return or stay on as consultants to help address the skills gap. Moving toward a zero trust security framework will also enable organizations to provide greater cybersecurity control with less administration.”

The study also reveals that skills such as deep thinking, information processing and the ability to ignore distractions and focus on what’s important are functions that increase from the late 50s to mid-to-late 70s. In addition, emotional intelligence increases with age, a skill fundamental to essential problem-solving or decision-making abilities needed to detect, respond and mitigate effectively against cyberattacks.

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