Survey Shows Tech Security Generation Gap

Jaikumar Vijayan June 22, 2012
Analyst questions results that show young tech-savvy users are less concerned with security -- and more prone to breaches -- than older users.

Young, tech-savvy people pay substantially less attention to online security risks and are therefore more likely to experience security problems than older people.

That's the not very surprising findings of a survey conducted by ZoneAlarm, a unit of security vendor Check Point Software Technologies.

ZoneAlarm polled 1,245 young and older tech users from the U.S, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia to find generational differences in attitudes towards computer security.

About 40% of the participants were between 18- and 35-years-old while about 20% were between 56- and 65-years-old. The rest ranged in age from 36 to 55.

The survey found was that respondents aged 18 to 25 generally tend to overestimate their knowledge about computer security, spend less than other age groups on security products and do less than baby Boomers to protect themselves online.

While more than one out of three Baby Boomers say admit being "very concerned" about security and privacy issues, only one in five younger users felt the same.

Similarly, only 31% of the younger respondents ranked security as the most important tech consideration, compared to 58% of Baby Boomers.

The survey also found that the younger respondents were less likely than the older ones to pay for antivirus products, third-party firewalls or integrated security suites. In general, older Internet users appeared to be more concerned about email-borne attacks while younger users were concerned about threats emanating from social media channels and file-sharing networks.