The theme of this year's International Women's Day - Generation Equality - highlights a growing concern for the technology sector: the digital divide. Women on average are 26 percent less likely than men to have a smartphone: In Africa, the proportion stands at 34 percent and in South Asia, it doubles to 70 percent and the majority of the more than three billion people offline are female. As the UN highlights the gender digital divide widens as technologies become more sophisticated and expensive. This is where addressing this digital divide around our knowledge of how to stay safe online is so vital.
Women could be more vulnerable to cyber threats than men
According to data from nCipher’s consumer study, women report being less informed about online security such as encryption. Women are significantly less likely to take basic precautions like updating their passwords regularly. One in three (32.3%) women have never learned about encryption compared to just 14.5% of men and, whilst more than half of the men surveyed were aware that individuals can encrypt their own data, only one third of women were aware of this. Of those that had heard about encryption, most learned about it at work.
The gender divide in the cybersecurity industry itself further underlines the problem with less than 20% female representation.
Cindy Provin, Senior Vice President Entrust Datacard and General Manager of nCipher Security comments:
“Equality is not a gender issue, it’s a business issue. At nCipher and Entrust Datacard, we celebrate International Women’s Day and celebrate our diversity and the continual collaboration needed to recognize equality within the Entrust Datacard team. For us it brings together different points of view stemming from our collective diversity that evolves and transforms our business delivering improved innovation to our customers and partners.”
Beth Klehr, Chief Human Resources Officer of nCipher’s parent company Entrust Datacard adds “Gender equality is not just the right thing to do for individuals, it’s the right thing to do for the company. We need everyone’s help to champion women and ensure they are recognized for their work and receive equal opportunities to grow their careers.”
Key data from the study
- 32.3% of women have never learned about encryption compared to just 14.5% of men
- Only 33.9% were able to correctly identify that individuals can encrypt their own data vs. 56.6% of men
- Women were also less likely to take basic precautions like updating their passwords regularly. Only 31.4% of women updated them at least every other month or more vs. 41.5% of men
- 37.6% of women felt they knew their online privacy rights, but this is still significantly lower than the figure for men at 44.6%
- Of those who have heard about it, most (20.3%) learned about it at work. The second most significant source of information were friends and family members (15.1%).