They may take our homes, but they’ll never take our data!

For hundreds of years there has been a long-held belief that an Englishman’s home is his castle, but the technological advancements of the 21st century now look set to challenge that notion.

Not only have we evolved to the stage where anyone can live in a medieval building, regardless of gender, we have also seen a shift in what the majority of people seem to hold most dear, at least according to new research from Citrix.

The tech company has revealed how almost one-third of UK workers would sense a greater feeling of violation if someone stole their computer files than they would if an intruder broke into their home.

(Interestingly, there were some regional variations though – the survey noted that Londoners (49%) were especially concerned about having their data stolen – which only leads me to speculate as to whether that was borne out of a concern for the value of their own personal information, or an understanding of the value of the business data they may have taken out of the office).

Sounds extreme I know, but there is a reason for that: almost half of the 2,000 full-time UK workers polled said they had a private folder on their machine that was so confidential they really would rather no-one else ever saw it.

Despite the fact that younger people tend to have a better understanding of new technology, it was the 16-24 age range that was most likely (48%) to save confidential information on their computer. Surprising, then, that this was also the age group that would feel most outraged if that data was accessed by an unauthorised third party.

Among the over 55s, the situation was somewhat different as only 1-in-6 admitted to having more than one private file saved on their device.

Other differences between the age groups were noted when it came to the storage of passwords – that 16-24 age bracket was the most likely to keep multiple login credentials recorded in one file on either their computer or mobile device.

With such a strategy leaving them wide open to any attacker who gained access to said file, the fear is that such a risky attitude could find its way into the workplace, either now, or in the near future, as the younger generation replaces the apparently more security-conscious older workforce.

Commenting on the survey, Chris Mayers, chief security architect, Citrix, said:

Data safety has never been more important, as workers are storing increasing amounts of data online.

The results of the study suggest that UK workers are indeed aware of the risks of data theft. Yet more work must be done to ensure this growing awareness translates to safer practices at work. A homeowner wouldn’t leave their front door open, so businesses shouldn’t run the risk of losing the keys to their data to the wrong hands.

Whatever the actual motivations of those polled, the report does offer up some encouragement though.

While it hints at potentially poor password security, the fact that people are better assessing the value of the data at their disposal can only be a good sign for those companies looking to secure their assets through a program of security awareness training.

After all, if your employees are concerned about their own data falling into the wrong hands, they’re far more likely to consider the consequences of the same thing happening to your corporate data.

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