'Generation standby' poses security risk to networks

Young, tech-loving and dangerous

A collision of recession and technology is creating a new breed of office worker who finds it hard to tell the difference between home and work, a survey has claimed.

Dubbed the 'generation standby' by report sponsors Clearswift for their inability or unwillingness to 'switch off', these mostly young workers are prodigious users of new technology and assume employers will happily grant access to social networking, webmail and even online shopping. They also raise major security challenges.

On the other hand, they also work incredibly hard in exchange for such concessions, even to the extent of taking work home with them in what the report interprets as a blurring of once discreet environments.

Forty-eight percent of office workers and 71 percent of managers surveyed said that work and home overlapped at least twice a week, with one in five reckoning it was more often still. This might explain why 63 percent had office-owned laptops as a way of taking work home with them, something that would have been impossible in the age of fixed computers.

The other side of this is that workers appear happy to take home life into the office, with half of managers seeing it as reasonable that their staff get access to social networking and other websites when they at work.

The home-to-office main application is email in the form of webmail, followed by social networking, online banking, instant messaging, and retail research.

The survey was small - only 400 people were included - but is undoubtedly accurate in opening the lid on the changing sociology of work. People are having to do more of it thanks to the recession, they are doing it in different ways, and some people are having to do it at home whether they want to or not.

Whether employers like it or not, this is changing what workers expect to do from inside work networks as a sort of quid pro quo, and this, Clearswift points out, also changes the nature of the sort of security issues faced by network managers. Workers are more likely to open malicious spam, to browse porn, and connect to people they don't personally know, and employers simply have to build this into their business model.

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John E. Dunn

Techworld
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