Warning from Millennials: tighten online security or lose our custom

95% of Millennials believe their digital identities are not completely protected by appropriate and effective security measures.

That’s according to a survey by Intercede as the findings of a new consumer survey that suggests Millennials in the U.S and UK are losing trust in today’s digital economy. Fewer than 5% of respondents believe their digital identity and personal data are completely protected by effective safeguards. This serves as a stark warning to businesses and government departments who provide online services and products, as digital natives protest that ineffective security practices are potentially putting their online data into the hands of cybercriminals.

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The research, commissioned by Intercede and conducted by Atomik Research, questioned approximately 2,000 16-35 year olds (the age demographic dubbed as ‘Millennials’) across the UK and U.S on their perceptions of current security measures. The results indicate a general ‘Millennial malaise’ towards existing safeguards, namely the use of easily-hackable but widely used password-based authentication methods. A quarter of Millennials questioned access more than 20 password protected websites, applications or devices over the course of a year, with 45% claiming they only ever change passwords when they have to. Only 6% believe their data is completely secure based on the password policy they apply.

When asked about the impact of an increasingly digitally-connected world, such as the increased use of mobile devices and tablets on their digital privacy, nearly 70% of Millennials believed the risk to their online safety will increase – with 31 per cent believing this increase will be dramatic. More disturbingly, 54% felt the failure of companies and governments to adequately protect identities and data would result in public distrust of goods and services. A further 44% believed there will be an eventual decline in data sharing and 36% predicted demands for action. Smaller but still significant percentages of the research group said there is potential for a decline in economic or political stability.

“Today’s Millennials have been digitally spoon-fed since birth, yet a general malaise is brewing among this demographic in terms of how safe their online data really is,” says Lubna Dajani, a communications technology expert and futurist. “Millennials understand their personal information is a form of currency they need to part with to access online services. Yet they participate in this ‘digital trade-off’ in the belief that more can be done to protect their privacy. Millennials want more control over who should be able to access their information; businesses and governments should urgently review current security protocols, or risk the potential to drive innovation and growth.”

“It’s time for organisations to stop playing fast and loose with what, in a digital economy, are our most important assets – our identity and our data,” commented Intercede CEO Richard Parris. “There seems to have been a collective consensus that Millennials will accept sub-standard security in exchange for online services. This clearly isn’t the case. The humble password should be consigned to the dusty digital archives where it belongs. To restore trust, smart companies need to look to stronger authentication techniques to ensure the future of digital commerce and information exchange and their own competitive edge.”

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