Cybersecurity Fatigue and Its Impact

A deluge of reports hits experts and workers hard

Irritated ethnic female entrepreneur in casual wear sitting at table with netbook and touching head while waiting for internet connection during remote work

Too much of anything is never a good sign. In the IT and information world, Big Data takes the stage as the be-all end-all of resource management. Tools and sheets to better utilize massive swaths of information are key to efficient infrastructure.

But the cybersecurity world sees huge shares of information too: namely, reports, reports, and even more reports. If you have even the slightest touch on the pulse of tech news, cybersecurity breaches are guaranteed to come up in some capacity. Company x was compromised by ransomware. Company y fell victim to social engineering. You get the idea.

While having a constant flow of new data to better understand the nature of cyberattacks sounds good, it has an unfortunate side effect. One, in fact, which could ultimately destabilize cybersecurity efforts instead of help them. In other words, “report fatigue.’ Think about your routine when catching up on the latest in the IT world. Another handful of reports related to breaches, day in and out. Eventually, you get numb to it.

Whereas, perhaps in years earlier, cybersecurity intelligence leads and officers would look over the reports to see just how a breach occurred, now, it’s barely worth a skim. Not because the information isn’t critical, or the problems at hand don’t demonstrate serious threats. But when confronted with the constant task of putting out digital fires and protecting networks, reports are mental noise they can’t afford.

A different kind of burnout

Fatigue remains present in workspaces for a variety of reasons. “Report fatigue” (what I’ll call it in this article) is a bit more insidious, since it pertains to critical cybersecurity issues. That’s because workers today, realized or not, are shouldering more of the cybersecurity burden than ever before. Consider that a majority of breaches occur because of social engineering, such as ransomware strikes. Therefore, workers must be aware of how threats work and operate.

However, when assaulted with blinding information about breaches on a daily basis, it gets harder to take it all seriously. A numbing, burnout effect sets in, despite the saturation of red flag scenarios. What happens? Reduced efficiency overall, and that’s not good when we’re in a time where cyber-attacks are reaching new highs every month.

This numbness can extend to threat perception. If ransomware attacks and data breaches become “the new normal,” their responses will be treated as such, which isn’t good. In the past, a breach was (and still is) a serious event. But, mentally, when something is approached as a “common happenstance,” it isn’t in the same realm of urgency, and thus cybersecurity suffers as a whole.

Additional mental impact

It’s not only a sense of fatigue and energy loss hitting experts at work. Security leads put a lot of effort, both mentally and even emotionally, into preventing breaches or similar attacks. And it’s understandable, given their profession and weight of the expectations associated with their job task. Therefore, in a breached environment, they take it much harder, which adds to the flood of numbness, fatigue, and overall performance burnout.

For workers, the “mental shrug” internalization has additional consequences as well. For instance, security policies are no longer taken seriously, the very basic ones which help mitigate numerous cybersecurity threats. An example would be not changing logins in a post-breach environment (often one of the reasons the breach happened in the first place).

Addressing the response burnout

So here’s the big question, how do you curtail this burnout full sale? Well, stopping all cybersecurity attacks would be nice, but, that’s not happening. Even with modern solutions, doing so at this stage and time is outright impossible.

Dealing with the situation comes down to each individual enterprise. There are, though, various solutions that are working to extend both information fatigue and the surplus of cybersecurity attacks. One of the biggest, for instance, is automation. Machine learning and data intelligence are a major part of modern cybersec solutions, mainly for a few reasons. One is that machine learning can adapt and sort through the influx of threat reports and turn into meaningful, digestible results. From that, security teams and staff can develop proactive solutions, instead of reactive ones.

That enables them to cut down on the “mental junk,” while also prioritizing threat reports. In other words, red flag scenarios get placed in higher tiers for immediate addressing while others get sorted to lower tiers. Implementing these strategies takes time and resources, of course, but a fundamental step in dealing with report fatigue.

Third-party resources are also an intelligent solution for dealing with both threats and report fatigue, like with a managed service provider. Bytagig just so happens to be one, and you can contact us for more information about our monitoring services.

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