Digital natives, Gen Z and the future of work

We recently reported that almost a quarter of Gen Z workers in Ireland have accessed the dark web from the workplace. DataSolutions’ David Keating says this new generation of born-on-the-web workers will need to be trained for the realities of risk in the working world.

The dark web is the part of the World Wide Web that isn’t visible to search engines and exists on darknets that require specific software such as TOR (The Onion Router) to access.

Not only that but almost 40pc of workers in Ireland spend at least an hour each day using work technology for personal reasons such as social media or for booking holidays.

“Every business will have its own rules but it’s vital that time is invested in acclimatising new generations into the workplace”

We caught up with Keating to find out more about the dangers of the dark web and reformatting digital natives for the world of work.

What kind of activities on the dark web are Irish employees accessing and what potential legal hot water can this land owner-managers in?

While our survey didn’t explore the specific types of activities that Irish employees are engaging in on the dark web, the fact that they are accessing it in the first place begs the question: what are they doing and could they be putting their employer and customers at risk? Normal websites don’t involve accessing the dark web and while some people use it for privacy reasons, that tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

Smiling man in plaid shirt.

David Keating, group security director, DataSolutions

The very fact that Irish office workers are accessing the dark web is a cause for concern for employers because there are illegal aspects to it. Therefore, organisations could find themselves in big trouble as a result of the actions of their staff members. After all, if a company has issued an employee with a work laptop or computer, they are ultimately responsible for the device and how it is being used. That’s a major risk.

Should employers have a laisse-fair attitude to letting workers – especially born-after-the-web Gen Zers – use the web for personal stuff??

I think employers need to be aware of how staff are using the web and ensure that people know what’s acceptable and what’s not. When the internet was first introduced into the workplace, people didn’t see anything wrong with using office computers to download personal files or host peer-to-peer messaging groups. Some people even ran their own businesses! Nowadays, people are more aware of the dos and don’ts in terms of usage and accessibility. As with any new communications tool, there is a settling in period.

With Gen Z entering the workplace, that’s another challenge because they are used to an online world where you share everything. In a work environment, the same rules don’t apply. That’s why employers should provide training on what’s appropriate in terms of the websites their team members visit, their online activities and the information they share on work devices. Every business will have its own rules but it’s vital that time is invested in acclimatising new generations into the workplace.

DataSolutions will be discussing cybersecurity strategy at the upcoming Secure Computing Forum in the RDS on 12 September.

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Written by John Kennedy (

Published: 5 September, 2019