Millennials are more aware of cybersecurity careers than they were four years ago and believe that cyber attacks influenced the 2016 presidential election, and yet they’re not interested in pursuing cyber professionally and exhibit careless online habits in their everyday lives.
No, this is not the head-scratching dichotomy of the latest viral video from Simon Sinek explaining this either self-absorbed and entitled or passionately idealistic generation — it depends on whom you ask — born between 1981 and 1997. Rather, the insights are from a new survey from Raytheon Co.’s Intelligence, Information and Services business unit, based in Dulles, along with the National Cyber Security Alliance and Forcepoint, an Austin, Texas-based cyber company owned by Raytheon.
The annual study, in its fifth year, captures what the companies call “alarming” trends among millennials when it comes to cybersecurity. And why does a $24 billion gov-con giant like Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon (NYSE: RTE) care?
Because “the demand for skilled cyber talent has become a national security issue,” Dave Wajsgras, president of the company’s Intelligence, Information and Services division, said in a statement. “While great strides have been made to increase millennial awareness in the cybersecurity profession, there is still work to be done.”
Indeed, hacks and breaches seem to grow more damaging and widespread by the day. At the same time ISACA, a nonprofit information security advocacy group formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, predicts there will be a global shortage of 2 million cybersecurity professionals by 2019.
Every year in the U.S., 40,000 jobs for information security analysts go unfilled, and employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cybersecurity-related roles, according to cybersecurity data tool CyberSeek. For every 10 cybersecurity posts that appear on careers site Indeed, only seven people even click on one of the ads, let alone apply, according to Forbes.
Opinion research firm Zogby Analytics independently conducted the Raytheon survey, polling 3,359 young adults ages 18-26 in nine countries: Australia, Germany, Jordan, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.
Some of the survey’s findings are encouraging, showing rising cyber awareness and engagement among millennials:
- 34 percent of U.S. survey respondents (37 percent globally) said a teacher discussed cybersecurity with them as a career choice, up 21 percent from the number of respondents who said a career in cyber had been mentioned to them by a teacher, guidance or career counselor in 2013.
- 51 percent of U.S. respondents (52 percent globally) said they know the typical range of responsibilities and job tasks involved in the cybersecurity profession, up from 37 percent in the U.S. in 2014.
- Globally, 46 percent of men have met or known someone studying cybersecurity at the high school, university or graduate level.
- 71 percent of young adults surveyed think it’s their responsibility to keep themselves secure online rather than relying on the government, commercial companies or other individuals.
At the same time:
- Globally, only 38 percent of millennials were willing to consider a career in cybersecurity. That percentage is unchanged from 2016.
- Only 26 percent of women globally have met or known someone studying cybersecurity at the high school, university or graduate level.
- Globally, 63 percent click on links even if they aren’t sure the source of the link is legitimate.
- The proportion of U.S. young adults who share passwords with non-family members nearly doubled from 23 percent in 2013 to 39 percent in 2017 (42 percent globally this year).
- 74 percent reported using unsecured public Wi-Fi today in the U.S. as a matter of convenience even though the security risks are well documented, up from 66 percent in 2013.
“We need to be providing the tools for this generation to take action and embrace safe online practices,” Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, said in a statement. “We also need strong role models – including parents, teachers, colleagues, and friends – to help improve cyber practices nationwide and encourage the pursuit of cybersecurity careers among young adults.”