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Network security in the era of the Millennials

Jeff Castillo, Country Manager, Fortinet Philippines | Jan. 25, 2017
One of the toughest gigs in IT is the job of keeping an organisation's network safe. It is also one that is getting tougher with the rise of the millennial generation.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.


Jeff Castillo, Country Manager of Fortinet Philippines

One of the toughest gigs in IT is the job of keeping an organisation's network safe. It is also one that is getting tougher with the rise of the millennial generation.

Millennials - those in their 20s to mid-30s - are starting to dominate workplaces around the world. More than one-in-three workers in the US are millennials, a 2015 study by Pew Research Center found. And this demographic group will account for half of the global workforce by 2020, according to PwC.

The term "millennial" has many connotations. Among them: They like sharing on social media. They won't put up with bad user experiences. They want a flexible approach to work. They move on quickly if their expectations are not being met. These characteristics will define the culture of the future workplace. They will also put the current network security regimes of many organisations to a stern test.

Here are three considerations.

1. Social media

To block or not to block? Many organisations have probably considered this question when it comes to their employees' use of social media in the workplace.

A study by HR software provider CareerBuilder, which polled employers from North America, found that 37% of employers see social media as one of the major productivity killers at the workplace, behind mobile phone and texting (55%), using the Internet (41%), and gossiping (39%). Three in four employers say two or more hours are lost a day in terms of productivity because employees are distracted.

From a network security perspective, social media is a vector for malware and socially engineered attacks. How many links that are shared innocently enough end up bringing users to compromised websites? And even if employees use social channels in a professional way, their friends and contacts are under no such obligation.

It is easy to ban or restrict social media sites at the network level. Static URL filters in Web filtering software can block or monitor specific URLs. The category-filtering feature can block entire groups of websites.

But that doesn't mean CIOs should start blocking social networks at the workplace.

A better approach is to relook at how network security is being enforced holistically. Having a clear social media policy and training for staff is a good start. For instance, sales staff should be reminded of the security and business risks that might result from checking in their locations at customer sites via social channels like Facebook.

 

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