IBD/TIPP Poll: How Gen Z, Millennials, Baby Boomers Differ On Cybersecurity

When it comes to cybersecurity, Generation Z and Millennials differ from their baby boomer parents and elders on who is responsible for keeping personal data safe, according to an IBD/TIPP poll.


And the split over personal or government responsibility for cybersecurity also comes down to political lines.

Among people aged 65 years and older, 40% said that consumers themselves bear responsibility for keeping personal data safe. That number was a solid 35% for people aged 45 to 64, which includes a good chunk of baby boomers.

Only 30% of those aged 18 to 24 that took part in the survey said consumers bear responsibility. The number fell to 23% among those aged 25 to 44, which includes most millennials.

“Young people do think that government bears more responsibility than older people and it does go along political lines,” said Mark Pfeifle, a former deputy national security adviser and currently the president of communications firm Off the Record Strategies in Washington. “But it (cybersecurity) really comes down to personal responsibility that everyone has and every business entity has to secure their systems.”

Cybersecurity: Who’s Responsible For Guarding Personal Data?

The IBD/TIPP cybersecurity survey involved 1,322 people, with implications for consumers and businesses that can be far-reaching.

Consumers face repeated attacks to their accounts; indeed, hackers reportedly seized virtually all customer records from telecom giant T-Mobile (TMUS) this past weekend. Meanwhile, many online brokers will have to reimburse clients for losses from unauthorized activity in accounts.

The survey results come as the Biden Administration is taking new measures to deal with a spate of ransomware attacks. But whether government is responsible for maintaining cybersecurity is up for debate.

The survey found that only 18% of people over 65 said the federal government bears responsibility for keeping personal data safe while 69% of those aged 18 to 44 said government should be the one keeping watch.

Among Democrats, 39% said the government bears responsibility while only 22% of Republicans and independents had a similar view.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, a government/industry group, in 2004 launched the Cybersecurity Awareness Month to educate individuals on their role in protecting data from hackers.

Corporations Face Decisions On How To Control Hackers

To be sure, consumers should have strong passwords for accounts, and they can’t engage in reckless online behavior that makes accounts vulnerable to hackers. Further, consumers need to be aware of phishing scams, say cybersecurity experts.

In that case, hackers send fake emails designed to trick people into clicking on a link that sends them to a bogus webpage. There, hackers aim to obtain pass codes and other personal data.

Corporate cybersecurity training courses for employees are now standard practice, added Pfeifle, who worked on strategic communications and global outreach at the National Security Council from 2007 to 2009. Pfeifle also noted that “Zero Trust” cybersecurity has gained traction among companies.

Zero Trust cybersecurity models focus on internal threats just as much as external hackers. Their framework establishes trust based on the credentials of a user, device and application regardless of location, either within the network perimeter or outside. Zero Trust models also focus on “best practices” within organizations.

“A lot of intrusions result from an employee doing the wrong thing,” added Pfeifle. “It’s often human error.”

38% Say They Experienced Personal Data Breach

Overall, 38% of those surveyed said they had experienced a personal data privacy breach of some kind during the past year. Among Gen Z and millennials, social media accounts were the most vulnerable. Credit or debit card accounts came in second.

But most people — across all age groups — trusted financial institutions and health care providers with their personal data.

And younger crowds expressed faith in online retailers in protecting them. The survey showed 74% of people aged 25 to 44 were “very” or “somewhat” confident that online retailers such as (AMZN) would keep their data safe from hackers.

The IBD Computer-Software Security group, meanwhile, ranks No. 103 out of 197 industry groups tracked. Top-ranked cybersecurity companies in the group include CrowdStrike Holdings (CRWD), which is also on the IBD Leaderboard.

Follow Reinhardt Krause on Twitter @reinhardtk_tech for updates on 5G wireless, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and cloud computing.

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