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Millennials vs. Baby Boomers. Who is less secure online?

A man from Gen Z or a millennial casually using his smartphone, epitomizing millennials' digital behavior.

Is there a generational difference in commitment to cybersecurity among Gen Z, Millennials, and Baby Boomers? Maybe so! Read on to explore different generational preferences, habits, and approaches to online security. Then install Norton 360 Deluxe, a powerful cybersecurity tool that helps safeguard your online activity and protect your privacy.

Cyber safety risks and remedies

You may think that there are huge differences in behaviour throughout generations. And while there are some generational divides in general, one of the biggest differences is how older generations on the internet think about cybersecurity compared to younger generations. But which generation is least secure online? Well, that depends.

Here, we’ll look at cyber safety risks for Gen Zers, Millennials, and Baby Boomers:

Cyber safety risks and remedies for Gen Z

Gen Z is the most connected generation — in a recent study by the National Security Alliance (NSA) and CybSafe, 64% of Gen Z respondents reported always being connected to the internet. And while being a digital native is certainly an asset in today’s world, this level of connection can expose you to nefarious actors and activities.

Here are some common risks that Gen Z faces online and some ways to remedy them:

Common risks:

  • Increased exposure to cybercrime, most commonly phishing and cyberbullying for Gen Zers, as a result of constant internet connection.
  • More opportunities for hackers to collect data due to frequent use of unencrypted public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Data breaches resulting from the use of personal information in passwords.


  • Adjust privacy settings to limit personal information visible on online accounts. Better yet, change your social media accounts to private.
  • Use strong, unique passwords for every online account. A data breach involving a password you use across multiple accounts could be catastrophic.
  • Avoid actively oversharing on social media. Q&A videos are fun, but not when you’re openly handing out personal information to strangers.
  • Download only necessary apps, or apps that you actively use, and prioritise websites with SSL certificates (URLs starting with "https").
  • Exercise caution when connecting to public Wi-Fi while you’re traveling or cafe-hopping with friends. Or, install a VPN, such as Norton Secure VPN to encrypt the data you send and receive online and help mitigate the risks of connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi.

Cyber safety risks and remedies for Millennials

Having grown up alongside the internet and earned the nickname “generation digital,” Millennials are enthusiastic tech adopters. The Millennial generation disproportionately advocates for working remotely, compared to Baby Boomers and Gen Zers, and members generally connect daily for both professional and personal use. Such reliance on digital platforms demands a strong focus on cybersecurity.

Here are some common cybersecurity risks for Millennials and how to remedy them:

Common risks:

  • Data breaches as a result of an unsecured Wi-Fi network used during remote work.
  • Exposure to romance scams due to near-constant online presence and use of dating apps and social media.
  • Increased exposure to phishing scams targeting sensitive financial data to use for identity theft or extortion.


  • Take advantage of the benefits of a VPN for work and banking to encrypt sensitive information you send and receive while online.
  • Implement strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) when available.
  • Watch out for the signs indicating that your online date is a fraud — it’s okay (and encouraged) to look up your date online before you meet them in person.

Cyber safety risks and remedies for Baby Boomers

Toward the other end of the generational spectrum, we have the Baby Boomers, sometimes called “digital immigrants” due to their later-in-life adoption of digital technology. For this reason, many Baby Boomers report that staying secure online isn't so easy. In fact, many people in this generation haven’t ever seen (or used) multi-factor authentication (MFA) while browsing or opening accounts online.

Here are some key cyber safety risks that Baby Boomers face:

Common risks:

  • Poor online privacy due to not prioritising account security.
  • Increased risk of data breaches and hacking attempts due to unprotected and old, unused accounts.


  • Use strong, unique passwords to improve online account security.
  • Close old accounts that you no longer use or have access to. That will help wipe away your digital footprint and leave you less vulnerable to hacking.
  • Enable MFA whenever possible to help protect against hackers. That might take some digging into privacy settings for each account, but it's crucial for protecting yourself online.

Another remedy to help mitigate online safety risks is to use Norton 360 Deluxe. The built-in firewall feature monitors and helps block unauthorised traffic for added security in the background. And the password manager feature helps you generate, store, and manage strong passwords, giving you a leg up when creating — and, more important, securing — your online accounts.

Defining the terms: Gen Z, Millennials, and Baby Boomers

We’ve seen some common cyber risks across generations. But what do we mean by Gen Zers, Millennials, and Baby Boomers? Here’s a brief explanation of the digital generations covered in this article:

Gen Z

Born between 1997 and 2013 and often dubbed “digital natives,” Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with the internet already established in daily life. They're known for their seamless tech integration and their affinity for all things digital, often blurring the lines between online and offline life. Gen Z is expected to make up about 25% of the workforce by 2025.


Millennials refer to the generation born between 1980 and 1996. While most Millennials likely recall early life without much digital technology, they are largely considered the very first “digital native” generation. They witnessed the evolution of digital technology, from the dawn of the internet era to the rise of smartphones and social media, which shaped their digital identity. Their tech journey is marked by adaptability and willingness to embrace new technologies.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964 during the “boom” in birthrates in the post-war years. They were pioneers in adopting home computers in the 1990s and early 2000s but have approached newer technologies with a degree of caution, ultimately resulting in their later adoption of digital technology.

Exploring digital security across the ages

The technological landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation over the years, from the early massive mainframes to the sleek, powerful devices in our pockets today. The internet itself is no exception and was adopted at varying rates across age groups. Gen Z and Millennials grew up with it, while Baby Boomers had to adapt later in life, leading to distinct digital behaviour.

Despite that, we can't assume that Millennials are inherently more tech-savvy than Baby Boomers — tech habits depend more on individual interests and motivations rather than generational labels. And each generation has experienced digital evolution differently.

Here’s a quick look at digital technology and its impact on different generations:

Security habits of Generation X

Generation X, falling between Baby Boomers and Millennials, serves as a bridge between the analog and digital worlds. This in-betweenness allows them to appreciate the convenience of digital tools, while also maintaining a degree of scepticism and vigilance. Compared to Gen Zers, Gen Xers are more likely to consider the impact of things they post online.

Gen Zers vs Millennials

Being more digitally immersed, Generation Z and Millennials are acutely aware of the risks associated with online activities. However, their familiarity with technology can sometimes lead to complacency. Gen Z may be prone to oversharing, and both generations can default to underestimating the importance of robust online security measures, such as mandatory IT updates on work devices.

Baby Boomers vs Millennials

While both generations are generally more cautious about oversharing personal information online, Millennials are more likely to prefer digital communication over face-to-face communication. That preference can lead to more exposure to phishing scams, hacking attempts, and other cyber threats.

Cyber security for all generations

In this exploration of generational digital behaviour, we've looked at the digital identities of Gen Zers, Millennials, and Baby Boomers. And despite the differences in digital habits across generations, one thing remains constant: Cybersecurity is more important than ever. That’s where Norton 360 Deluxe comes in.

With Norton 360 Deluxe, you get a built-in password manager that helps you create and store stronger login credentials for all your online accounts, and a VPN that encrypts the data you send and receive online. And the antivirus engine helps block malicious software and protect against online threats. Install Norton 360 Deluxe today.

Emma McGowan
  • Emma McGowan
Emma McGowan is a privacy advocate & managing editor at Gen, formerly a freelance writer for outlets like Buzzfeed & Mashable. She enjoys reading, sewing, & her cats Dwight & Poe.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


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