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More security through digital competence: A problem for digital immigrants?

More security through digital competence: A problem for digital immigrants?


Security on the Internet is an evergreen and is especially popular when news of dangerous malware variants or rampant hacker campaigns circulate through the media. What hardly shocks digital natives, so all those who have grown up with digital media and the Internet, unsettles the older generation in particular – known in the jargon as digital immigrants. But the dry truth is that anyone can become a victim of a hacker attack. Statistically, 7 out of 10 hackers choose their victims spontaneously. That's why IT security is an important topic for everyone, regardless of age.

The human factor: greater security through digital competence

In general, IT security describes a state in which risks in dealing with IT systems and components have been reduced to a tolerable level. This includes measures to protect against unauthorized access, manipulation or even data theft and includes both software and hardware systems. But understanding the risks that can arise when dealing with IT and taking appropriate protective measures requires more than just a pre-installed firewall. Above all, the human factor is crucial here, as it is the greatest weak point in the interaction between man and machine. Digital competence is seen as the key to greater IT security and is inextricably linked to it. It encompasses all the knowledge and skills required for the secure use of IT and digital media, thus enabling a constructive approach to the challenges of the digital world. After all, these challenges are constantly growing. Because with advancing digitization and global networking, users are providing an ever-larger attack surface for cyber criminals. It's no wonder that the number of hacker attacks continues to rise. Email, social media and bank accounts are particularly at risk – and yet: users in Germany are not really worried. Only 24 percent think it is likely that one of their accounts will be hacked in the future. Almost half even consider this unlikely. But what do the statistics say?

When digital natives become digital naives

The figures are alarming: one in four Germans between the ages of 16 and 69 has already been a victim of cybercrime. The most common type is online shopping fraud, followed by phishing and malware attacks. The attackers are always after monetary benefits, either directly via manipulated payments or indirectly with the help of information that can be turned into money on the black market. In particular, too lax a use of the available security features and a lack of caution make it easy for the perpetrators. Surprisingly, digital natives, so millennials and members of Generation Z, are much less aware of the existing dangers than the 50-plus generation. Only 28 percent of 16- to 29-year-olds take preventive measures to inform themselves about security issues, compared with around 38 percent of older people. This makes it clear that despite a high level of digital competence, there is often an acute need to catch up when it comes to IT security and awareness. Much more frequent use of digital media does not protect younger users from falling victim to a hacker attack. After all, the success of a hacker attack depends to a large extent on the IT security measures taken. Time is money – even for hackers. If an attack proves too time-consuming due to a well-secured IT structure, hackers will look for easier targets.

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