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Cisco study finds kids just don't get it

Next gen workforce openly flouts IT security policies to get their Internet fix

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 yet another study released by Cisco this week. Actually, this one is the final installation of a three-part Connected World Technology Report issued by the company.

The first two parts revealed just how indifferent young workers are to the IT policies of their workplace, and how entitled they feel to breach them in order to fulfill their gadgety lifestyle. The earlier reports found that some would rather date virtually over the Internet than physically - they view Internet access as a staple of life, like air, food and water - and that a technologically liberal workplace is greater compensation than a higher salary.

This third installment found that their desire for on-demand access to information is so ingrained 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.

Sounds like a normal workday to me, and for me. And I'm not a young-un - I'm looking to retire in 10-15 years.

But this behavior comes with a price, Cisco asserts. The company's study found that one in four college students and employees experiences identity theft before the age of 30. They might be asking for it: One in three college students globally does not mind sharing personal information online, believes privacy boundaries are loosening, or does not think about privacy, the Cisco study found.

Even if they did, Cisco found that 70% of the young employees it surveyed admitted to breaking IT policy with varying regularity. One-third said they didn't see anything wrong with breaking policy, and two-thirds said IT policies need to be modified "to address real-life demands for more work flexibility."

Three of five employees believe they are not responsible for protecting information and devices, believing instead that IT and/or service providers are accountable, the Cisco study found. Kids... ah, the liberating air of unaccountability.

Sixty-four percent of young employees surveyed said they had hopped onto a neighbor's or business' Internet connection, or borrowed other people's devices and used them unsupervised. More than half said they have allowed others to use their computers without supervision.

Eighty-six percent of college students said they have allowed others to use their computer unsupervised, and more than one in 10 admitted leaving personal belongings and devices unattended in public.

Sounds like these kids better shape up before entering or entrenching themselves in the workplace. If not, IT is going to have a helluva problem on its hands.

The Cisco report surveyed more than 2,800 college students and young professionals in 14 countries that represent the largest or fastest growing economies. It was commissioned to understand how companies must balance business needs and risk management with the next generation of employees' technology expectations and behavior.

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