Which generation is Australia’s most cyber secure?

When we think about high-tech products or gadgets we often picture young people behind the controls. But does being tech savvy automatically mean you’re also cyber safe? Our latest findings may surprise you.

Most people are not confident when it comes to cyber security

We surveyed more than 2000 small business owners and employees as part of the Cyber Wardens intergenerational research report released earlier this year*.

The research shows only one in five Australian small business owners and employees are confident in their ability to prepare for (23%), fight (21%) and recover (21%) from a cyber threat. That leaves around 80 per cent of people who aren’t!

Does tech savvy = cyber secure?

In short, not really.

The survey results show two-thirds (67%) of Australian small business owners believe tech-savviness equates to cyber safety skills. But being tech savvy (or young and hip) doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re more cyber secure as people might assume. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Digital natives (Gen Z) are the least cyber secure

While Gen Zs (those born after 1997) may have grown up with Tiktok and Minecraft, the research suggests our first generation of digital natives are among the least cyber safe compared to their older counterparts (sorry to the Gen Zs reading).

Gen Zs are among the least aware of common cyber security threats such as identity theft and ransomware. Despite their lower awareness of incoming threats, Gen Z rate their skills to prepare for, fight and respond to cyber threats as on-par to all other generations suggesting inflated levels of confidence (now we’re really sorry).

What types of cyber security risks are you aware of, that you have heard of before today?

In good news, Gen Z is the generation most keen to learn more and help build a culture of cyber safety with one in two Gen Z employees (55%) interested in participating in the Cyber Wardens program.

So, which generation is the most cyber secure?

The safest pair of hands in the small business community appear to be GenXers and upper Millennials in their 30s who are the most likely to take cyber security seriously. They are most likely to rate cyber security as of high threat to small businesses they own or are employed in.

How concerned are you about the risk of a cyber security attack impacting your work or business?

Boomers top the charts for most likely to see cyber security as a whole team responsibility.

Why does it matter?

Australian small business owners have done it tough the past few years, particularly as they’ve emerged from a global pandemic and the supply chain issues that have come with it. The last thing they need is a cyber attack or scam to contend with.

With a small team, every role and every team member is critical to day to day operations. A good first step is taking stock of who is responsible for your business’ cyber protection.
Small business owners who regularly outsource tech support and social media to young family members need to be cautious as young employees can lack key competencies around cyber safety.

The lesson here is not to assume digital natives are cyber security literate or know how to defend your business from a cyber attack. They might in some cases… but make sure they are supported to learn more about cyber security risks before you rely on them as your frontline defence.

*Research conducted by 89 Degrees East on behalf of COSBOA with 2000+ Australian small business owners and employees in November and December 2022.

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