Cybersecurity | December 17th, 2022

Is There a Generational Difference When it Comes to Awareness of Phishing Emails?

Is There a Generational Difference When it Comes to Awareness of Phishing Emails?

Email has become a more and more popular form of communication through the ages and nowadays, almost everybody has one. With this global pandemic going on, email usage has never been higher. And this is why fraudsters take advantage of using it to access the information of unsuspecting individuals for their own good.

Working from home during the pandemic has undoubtedly made our work and personal bubbles hazier than they used to be. As per recent surveys, at least 59% of employees tend to use their company emails for personal reasons, over 90% of which are Gen Z. It can go anywhere from using it to register to various social media sites, subscribing to blogs to signing up for video streaming services and the likes. This behavior leads to companies being vulnerable to all kinds of cyberattacks such as email phishing. 

In today’s virtual world, companies have become the phishing ground for fraudsters. If your database is not secured enough, your and your client’s information can be stolen in just a few clicks. For example, an employee clicking a link on an email saying they won the jackpot for a raffle they didn’t even join can provide an entryway for these cyber criminals.

The survey also identified a vast generational difference among employees of different ages. During the holiday season, at least 1 in 3 employees admit that they are using their work email to shop online for gifts for their loved ones. It is noted that Boomers are less likely to get involved in this specific activity as they prefer the old-school way of actually going to the store and savoring the holiday rush.

Let’s look at other gaps between generations and how it affects their online behaviors:

Gen Z (born between 1995–2010)
Our biggest online workspace protocol offenders are Generation Z or Gen Z. Despite being the most exposed to the internet out of everybody on this list, they seem to be the most frequent victims of phishing and hacking. 

Findings show that not only do Gen Z tend to use their work email for personal use, but most of them are also ingenuous to click links on phishing emails. Ironically, at least 93% of them say they are confident enough to spot a phishing email when they see one. However, only thirds of them know how to deal with it. 

They are also the most likely to use the same passwords across different apps and sites or use passwords that are pretty easy to guess. If this rings a bell to you, you might want to level up your password hygiene practice and keep your accounts secure.

Millennials (born between 1980–1995)

Next up on our list are the Millennials, most of which are born during the rise and peak of the internet, they are also what you can consider a digital native. This also means that they are one of the generations that are technologically dependent. Not only do they use technology to be socially connected to people, but they are also known to shop, and do their banking and other financing activities online.

This makes them a great target for hackers and fraudsters. Like their younger version, at least 55% of them also use their corporate email accounts for non-work-related activities. As technology becomes more advanced with years of improvement, cybercriminals get smarter too. They imitate the online personas of your favorite retail shops, or emails from your trusted banks to get you to click their link and allow them free-range access to your company’s network.

Thankfully, 70% of millennials have proven to make wise decisions when it comes to securing their online accounts and is keeping themselves up to date with the latest security updates. They use two-factor authentication and follow decent password hygiene.

Gen X (born between 1965–1980)
Though not as involved in social media as the Gen Zs or their successor, the Millenials, studies show that Gen X heavily relies on technology as a means of communication. There are about 74% of them who use social media to communicate with friends, peers, and family. 

According to research, employees from this generation are warier about their identities getting stolen online. Only 4% of them admit they tend to click a link or open an attachment before thoroughly investigating a suspicious email. 

However, not a lot of them actively secure their personal information on the internet. Since they’re not as exposed to technology as their younger generation, a lot of Gen Xers are not as informed on how to secure themselves online. A lot tends to overshare in social media, which makes social engineering easier for fraudsters. 

Baby Boomers (born between 1945–1965)
Last but not least, the Baby Boomers. The first-generation internet users. They were the first ones to use computers at home and at work. However, as technology very quickly evolved year after year, most boomers were left behind.

Now, this isn’t all bad. Because they are not aware or comfortable with recent technologies unlike their younger counterparts, they have fewer online activities. This does not mean that they are excluded from fraudsters’ ill intentions though. It’s actually the opposite. They are one of the most sought-after by scammers, using their naivety in technology against them.

Luckily, surveys show that most boomers know to forward suspicious emails to their IT team. They also refrain from clicking any links and are more cautious towards spam mail in general. 

The global Covid 19 pandemic has caused everyone to rely on technology for convenience, and boomers are no strangers to this. More and more of them have started using grocery and food delivery apps and telehealth options over the last two years. This is why it is still important to further educate them on the dangers of the internet and how to secure their information online.

At Contango, we are providing our clients with security awareness training and videos that are informative and easy to understand, no matter what generation your employees are from. This is a standard offering with Contango Unlimited, to help keep your company safe from cyberattacks and accidental data breaches. If you want to learn more about our Contango Unlimited, contact us today!

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