A Look Into Online Security Through the Ages

Our latest research, dubbed “Online Security Through the Ages,” explored each generation’s different opinions and approaches when it came to online security. We discovered that no matter the person’s age, people are nervous about their personal accounts getting hacked, and for good reason. The frequency of large- and small-scale hacks in the news may be contributing to security fatigue, leaving people feeling helpless in the face of today’s sophisticated hackers. The good news is there are simple solutions for the generation-wide concern of hacking that will make people of all ages feel in control and secure.

Here are a few insights we learned about each generation and tips on how they can improve their online security.

Generation Z – Invincible to hackers?
Our survey data showed that 96% of Gen Z (people ages 13-22) expressed confidence in their ability to keep their online data safe, and along with Boomers, ranked the highest for those claiming to never having been hacked. To the contrary, our findings found 32% of Gen Z put little thought into their password creation and have poor password practices across their online accounts. This is particularly interesting because, despite being exposed to the internet from a young age, they are the least concerned with their online security and password hygiene.

If this describes you, stop relying on luck and go back to password basics. The first line of defense is creating a strong and unique password, which should include a mix of characters (numbers, symbols, upper and lowercase letters) and be as long as possible (no shorter than 14 characters). For bonus points, make your password a passphrase and implement two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible (this added security feature is something your older siblings, Millennials, may be able to teach you).

Millennials – Most security-savvy of the bunch
Millennials (people ages 23-34) deserve a pat on the back for their use of two-factor authentication, constant hunting for new technology to keep them secure online, and practicing good password hygiene. More than 40% of Millennials said they use two-factor authentication, making them the biggest users of this added security tool. What’s even more impressive is that 69.6% said they’re always on the lookout for new ways to keep personal information secure. Out of all the generations, this group is the most proactive with their safe password practices.

But it never hurts to be prepared. In addition to using strong, unique passwords for every online account you have, develop a game plan for what you will do in the event of a personal or 3rd party breach (think Yahoo!, LinkedIn, etc.). The first step is always to change your passwords ASAP. Here are a few more things that you can easily do to take control of your security the next time there’s another breach in the news.

Generation X – The worried generation
Our research shows that 88.4% of Gen X (people ages 35-54) are concerned with password security, and 79.2% are nervous about their personal information being hacked, making this group the most concerned of the bunch. Yet, only a small portion of respondents are taking steps to be more secure.

Between email, social media and financial online accounts, the average person has 27 separate logins, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing all you can to protect yourself online.

Taking steps to improving your online security may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out our blog post on why using a password manager tool, such as LastPass, can securely store and organize your passwords and instantly improve your online security. Taking the time to learn some general online security best practices, like learning how to identify a phishing email or suspicious website, avoiding public Wi-Fi (even if you’re at your favorite coffee shop), and never re-using the same password twice, will ensure your information is safe online.

Baby boomers – More tech-savvy than you thought
We’re impressed with results we received from the Baby Boomers (people ages 55+), as they seemed to take the most security precautions of all the age groups. This group was most likely to verify sender of spam email (84.4%), put the most thought into password creation (85.2%), and are the least likely to share passwords with others. While most of the other age groups reported that they regularly (and insecurely) use the same password across sites, Boomers were the exception, with 32.8% saying they use more than 10 different passwords for all online accounts.

Before you get a gold star, we recommend going one step further by adding on a second layer of security to your online accounts. Our research found that 35% of Boomers said they didn’t know what two-factor authentication was – a valuable security method that’s available on most major websites. The benefit to using 2FA is that, if your password somehow was compromised, an attacker still wouldn’t be able to get in to your account without the second-factor authentication information.

Regardless of the generation you fall into, we all have to face the reality of today’s digital world, where data breaches are on the rise and pose a very real threat to our personal information. By following these tips, you’ll make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself and your family.

If you haven’t already, create a LastPass account, too, so you can start saving yourself time while also giving your security a boost!