Tips for Millennials on Cybersecurity Practices

Caleb Townsend
Staff Writer United States Cybersecurity Magazine


Millennials are at risk to be the victim of a cyber-crime.

Millennials are in a constant state of media saturation. Growing up, many millennials have been bombarded with dated and cheesy propaganda designed to keep us “cyber safe”. Videos of large, talking computers who rap about the dangers of chat-rooms were a dime a dozen in the VHS days. Additionally, images of a dude surfing down a tunnel made of binary, yelling about the “information superhighway,” are permanently burned into the memory of any 90’s baby.

Because of the saturation, it is easy for many millennials to become jaded when talking about cybersecurity.  Often, many under the age of 20 view the older demographics as paranoid and uneducated in the digital realm. As a result, millennials often neglect and resent any conversation on internet security and privacy.

This very resentment could be a large reason why, according to the 2016 Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report,  millennials are the demographic most vulnerable to cyber crime.1 It could also account for the fact that, in 2015, a staggering 44 percent of U.S. millennials were a victim of online crime. The lack of caution on the internet is not surprising. Millennials have spent their entire lives online and view the aggressive concern for internet safety as an overreaction. But with this knowledge and confidence comes a host of issues.

Physical security

When you buy something like a laptop, or jewelry, it is common practice to put it in a safe.  It is important to treat personal information in the same way.  However, a 2015 TransUnion study indicated that two-thirds of millennials surveyed do not use a password to lock their device.2 Additionally, in 2017, the most popular password used for a computer or phone was 123456. By habit, a lot of devices often store very sensitive information such as bank accounts, SSN, saved passwords, among other info.

Solution:

Use a varied, protected password with upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols, that is at least 8 characters long. Do not give your password to anyone.

Phishing Emails

Often an email will pose as a legitimate business proposal, a rare opportunity, or even as an intimate friend in need of help. The attackers use spoofing methods to dupe the reciever. The emails will usually contain a link that will unleash malware onto your computer.

Solution:

Scan emails before clicking any links. Try to ask yourself

  • Did you expect this email?
  • Is the grammar appropriate for the context?
  • Does this entity usually email me?

Chances are, if your gut tells you something is off, something is off.

Privacy

Even with security precautions, we are vulnerable to the permanence of a public forum. Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, these are all performative platforms where we are encouraged to document our lives on a daily basis. This unlimited access to an audience leaves you vulnerable. Social media platforms create a map of people’s habits and routines.  Something like “how many slices of pizza you ate” may not seem like deathly personal information. But specific info on where a person works out or how long they leave their house to go out on a run can be the focal point in painting a full picture of who they are and what their daily routines consist of.

Solution:

Be careful what you post. Be aware that information goes beyond your news feed. If your posts are public, anyone can see them if they search the right keywords. If your posts are private, your information is still being shared with whatever app you are using, and in some cases, that can be dangerous. Be cautious and conservative with your online persona, and never post anything you wouldn’t want your mom, future employers, and future significant others to see.

 


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