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RSA Conference 2012: The threat of the new generation of employees

One of the largest threats facing organizations today is not a criminal at all, but someone known as a "digital native."

"There's an unstoppable force heading this way and it's hitting us at the moment," Enrique Salem, president and CEO of Symantec, said Tuesday in a keynote address at the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco. "It's not a new form of cyber crime…it's a large group of young people called digital natives."

Typically born in the 1990s, a digital native is identified as the new breed of young professional in the workplace who is accustomed to bringing their own computing "customs" into the office, whether through their own devices or by accessing social networks such as Facebook. Enterprise security now faces the task of conforming to these new customs without compromising security standards.

This new generation is redefining multitasking by not relying on a single source of information, but by reaching out across their networks to get answers and collaborate on solutions. Through their networking efforts, they find faster ways to get things done, ultimately impacting business.

"It's impacting us today, and we must understand this new generation and create a world that works for them," Salem said. "To them [digital natives], there's no distinction between the internet at work and the Internet at home. They don't think about identity and security the way we do.

While new techniques and products are in the works to handle these workplace trends, Salem's speech highlighted four core pillars of security that must be addressed: a reliable early-warning system, state-of-the-art protection, fast remediation, and a response plan using outside resources, including law enforcement.

"We need to lean in and be more aggressive about accepting these changes," Salem said. "The reality is, there's no fighting it. We need to be ready to protect it."

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