1 in 3 Millennials believe risks to their online safety are set to increase dramatically

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Identity and credential management firm Intercede has disclosed the findings of a newly commissioned survey which reveals how Millennials in the UK and US lack faith in the digital economy.

In a blow to e-commerce and service websites, more than 95% of the survey’s respondents said they did not feel as though existing safeguards were sufficient to protect their online identities and personal data.

Given the number of high profile breaches we’ve seen recently, from online traders to extra-marital affair websites, I’m hardly surprised.

Questioning 2,000 young people, Atomik Research captured the views of 16-35 year-olds on the topic of security, discovering that attitudes toward existing safeguards fell into the category of ‘uneasiness’.

Unsurprisingly, passwords were a particular area of concern:

With a quarter of Millennials regularly accessing more than 20 websites, apps or devices, verification methods were at the forefront of their minds. As a result of their experiences and, no doubt, exposure to a media which seems increasingly happy to report on security topics, only 6% felt that their data was adequately protected by the password systems they encountered.

According to another recent survey conducted by LaunchKey, most people would feel far happier if passwords went the way of the dodo, with 76% saying an alternative verification system – such as fingerprint verification – would leave them feeling far more secure.

Intercede CEO Richard Parris commented that:

It’s time for organisations to stop playing fast and loose with what, in a digital economy, are our most important assets – our identity and our data.

There seems to have been a collective consensus that Millennials will accept sub-standard security in exchange for online services. This clearly isn’t the case. The humble password should be consigned to the dusty digital archives where it belongs. To restore trust, smart companies need to look to stronger authentication techniques to ensure the future of digital commerce and information exchange and their own competitive edge.

When prompted for their thoughts on the future, including the increased reliance on mobile devices, nigh on 70% of the respondents said they thought security issues would become even more prevalent. Almost a third believe the risks to their online safety will increase dramatically in the future.

This, they felt, was largely upon the shoulders of business and government, with 54% claiming that a continued failure to protect personal data would have a negative impact on public perception and, hence, the trade in online goods and services.

An optimistic 44% of Millennials thought current levels of data sharing would drop off in the future though just over a third expect citizens will have to demand such cuts.

A small but not insignificant number of those surveyed suggested issues surrounding digital security and data sharing could lead to future political instability, something which isn’t perhaps as far-fetched as it sounds given the recent public furore over NSA spying and bulk data collection, as well as German attitudes toward Angela Merkel after it was discovered that their secret services had been in bed with their American counterparts.

Lubna Dajani, a communications technology expert and futurist, said:

Today’s Millennials have been digitally spoon-fed since birth, yet a general malaise is brewing among this demographic in terms of how safe their online data really is.

Millennials understand their personal information is a form of currency they need to part with to access online services. Yet they participate in this ‘digital trade-off’ in the belief that more can be done to protect their privacy. Millennials want more control over who should be able to access their information; businesses and governments should urgently review current security protocols, or risk the potential to drive innovation and growth.

I don’t doubt that Millenials will one day be in the position to influence the changes they wish for but, in the meantime, what will companies and government do to get the ball rolling in the right direction? Anything, anything at all?