SANS EMEA Survey: the iGen and Cyber Security

Is the next generation aware of cyber security's importance?

In September/October 2018 Vanson Bourne* undertook research on behalf of the SANS Institute, questioning 4000 students aged 14-18 across EMEA. The research explored both awareness of and opinions on cyber security among that age group, as well as more specifically asking students for their views on cyber security as a potential career. The countries surveyed were the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

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Reports vary but all predict that in the next year or two, unfilled cyber security job openings globally will run into several million. Cyber security practitioners are hard to come by and while up and cross-skilling professionals from other industries or sub-sectors is one option, there is no way that the current working population can keep up with the pace of change in cyber security and the widening gap in supply and demand.

This conundrum sees companies and governments the world over having to rethink their strategies for plugging the cyber security skills gap. There is widespread agreement that the answer lies within our younger generations and more must be done to educate them about cyber security, and the skills needed to protect our digital lives, at a younger age.

As digital natives, the iGeneration (or Generation Z) has a vast enthusiasm, aptitude and appetite for technology consumption, and will account for a huge proportion of the world's population (32%) this year. The following research indicates that, although there is strong broad awareness of cyber security, when you drill down into the detail of what constitutes good security hygiene, there is a lack of deep knowledge. It also shows that there is still a strong need to establish cyber security as a credible career path in the minds of students, parents and teachers alike if the cyber security industry is to capitalise on this untapped pool of tech skills by catching students at an earlier age and encouraging the pursuit of cyber security as a career. Simultaneously, we surveyed 1000 parents and 200 teaching professionals in the UK to find out their views and awareness of cyber security, and its suitability as a career for their children/students. Although this obviously only represents opinions in the UK, we have included those findings in this report to provide a flavour of how the opinions and understanding of cyber security among parents and teachers differ from the students.

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* Vanson Bourne is a respected market research agency, specialising in conducting research in the technology sector.

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