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Three ways to keep your mobile security millennial-proof

Three ways to keep your mobile security millennial-proof 

According to Statistics Canada, employees born between 1980 and the mid-2000s became the largest generation in the Canadian workforce in 2014. By 2030, millennials will comprise 75 percent of the entire global workforce.1

These figures alone demonstrate how millennials will become the number one catalyst for accelerated change in the workplace. Already, generational differences are revolutionizing the work environment, such as focusing on mobile, social and cloud applications.

Known for its innate digital proficiency, Generation Y brings greater expectations of technology wherever they go – especially in the workplace. Millennials are demanding the ability to connect with their colleagues, access their work at any time, and to do so from multiple devices. But, who can blame them? No other generation before has grown up in a world where technology was right at their fingertips.

The challenge – or end-all – isn’t merely recognizing these generational gaps within the company. Rather, it’s managing the risks of the 21st century mobile revolution, and the drastic implications that their actions can have on enterprises.

Hackers are honing in the growing opportunities to exploit holes in corporate mobile devices, which often stem from taking advantage of simple (and what appears to be harmless) mistakes – it can be as miniscule as downloading a vulnerable dating app.

Employers and corporations need to start listening. If not now, it could very well lead the company to serious and fatal repercussions. According to the latest Ponemon Institute’s Cost of Data Breach Study in Canada, 52 percent of data breaches were caused by malicious or criminal attack, while system glitch and employee negligence or human error both represented 24 percent of all data breaches. More advanced, sophisticated cybercrime attacks are on the rise, with an average total organization cost of $5.32 million for Canadian companies in 2015.

Understanding the dangers and possible outcomes, how can we provide the millennial workforce with the mobile flexibility they need, while ensuring corporate data remain safe?

1. Ensure security is easy and accessible

Build an organization-wide mobile strategy that also caters to today’s millennial requirements. For instance, millennials primarily seek convenience, so it’s critical to ensure employees always have access to what they need to easily work remotely without compromising the safety of corporate information. Allowing sharing of data across multiple devices, without employing cumbersome VPN connections, is important.

When tighter security is mandatory, such as in corporate data centers, apply policies to restrict potentially harmful activities, such as camera usage and web surfing.

2. Establish your own user experience

There are multiple reasons why mobile app security is such a big concern in the marketplace: 50 percent of mobile app developers do not retain enough budget to secure them. 40 percent of organizations do not scan the code in their apps for vulnerabilities before releasing them. And the average business tests less than half of the apps it builds.

Try taking app security into your own hands by gauging your employees’ app preferences and emphasizing user experience. Millennials are extremely design-orientated and won’t shy away from (potentially vulnerable) alternatives if an app doesn’t satisfy their expectations.

3. Respect personal boundaries

Businesses shouldn’t be concerned with employees’ personal data, such as their contacts, photos, browsing history, or personal apps – as long as it doesn’t infringe on corporate policy.

At the end of the day, it is virtually impossible to monitor and limit all the different uses by your employees. However, allowing personal devices to be freely used for work only increases the risk of compromising proprietary data.

Instead, learn to take advantage of technologies – employing strategies and tools that can detect malicious apps or malware, and then take action. Heavily restricting corporate device use or banning Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy, will only trigger talents away from the company.

Remember that while millennials are currently the leaders in this movement of workers adopting new technologies, there will always be another generation after. It’s critical to keep an open mind and create an adaptable security roadmap for a company to stay ahead and ultimately, survive.

Every generation brings something new to the table. Resist dividing and managing in fear, and instead, leverage each generation’s differences.

By John Beal, National Security Saas Leader, IBM Canada

[1]Meister, Jeanne. “Three Reasons You Need To Adopt A Millennial Mindset Regardless Of Your Age.” Forbes. October 5, 2012. 2012/10/05/millennialmindse/

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