Even though your organization’s cyber heroes are only required to work from 9-5, cyber threats are lurking 24/7.

Many dangers can materialize online, requiring constant monitoring and security operations professionals to keep up with and potentially mitigate the latest threats and vulnerabilities.

And with the rapid increase in global cyber attacks, the stress for cyber security professionals is through the roof.

Because of the strong demands in the cyber security field, matched with the burnout that plagues the industry, job openings for cyber security experts are at an all-time high—and the demand won’t slow down anytime soon. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, information security analysts are seeing a job growth rate of 33% by 2030.

However, there is also a huge talent drought in the industry. Cybersecurity Ventures estimated 3.5 million unfulfilled positions in the industry in 2021, a 350% increase from the 1 million vacant positions in 2013.

The reasons for the lack of talent in cyber security are vast, but one major culprit is cyber security burnout because of the intense job-related demands. 2021 data from the Forrester survey shows that 51% of cyber security professionals experienced extreme stress or burnout, 65% have considered leaving their job because of stress, and 73% of workers have resigned.

In this article, we discuss cyber security burnout, the contributing factors, and how to avoid it so you can foster a healthy work culture for your cyber heroes.

What is Cyber Security Burnout and How Does it Happen?

Cyber security burnout is a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged exposure to the stresses of working in the cyber security field.

It can lead to feelings of cynicism, detachment, and apathy. It can eventually result in complete disengagement from one’s work, which may as well be another kind of cyber security risk.

Symptoms of cyber security burnout include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending stream of cyber threats and cyber security trends
  • Feeling constantly on edge and anxious about potential attacks
  • Losing interest in and enjoyment of work
  • Becoming cynical or pessimistic about the prospects of preventing or deterring cyber attacks
  • Feeling detached from colleagues and/or other members

With the constant threat of cyber attacks and the never-ending stream of news about major data breaches, it’s no wonder people working in this field are at risk of burning out.

So how does it happen? How can someone passionate about cyber security and protecting others from online threats feel overwhelmed and exhausted?

Key factors that contribute to cyber security burnout

Here are some of the most common sources of burnout for cyber security professionals:

Increased cyber crime

As a cyber security professional, you can’t let your guard down for a minute. You must be constantly on the lookout for new threats and vulnerabilities, which means it’s difficult to rest easy knowing that your systems may not be totally secure.

Lack of control

There is a lot you can’t control when it comes to cyber security. These elements include the actions of hackers or the motives of those who would exploit vulnerabilities in your systems.

Isolation

Cyber security is often an isolating job. You may not have colleagues who understand the technical aspects of your work, which can lead to feeling like you’re the only one who cares about cyber security within your organization.

Unrealistic expectations and lack of appreciation

Cyber security is a complex field, and some aren’t credited or shown appreciation for the vital work they do daily.

Excessive working hours

According to a report conducted by Tessian, 99% of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) work extra hours every week, clocking in over 10 hours per day. About 1 in 13 CISOs work an additional 20-24 hours per week, averaging to roughly12 hours per day.

The Risks of Cyber Security Burnout

According to a recent study, 51% of cyber security professionals are experiencing some form of burnout. And it’s not just the bigwigs at-risk—junior staff and students are also susceptible.

Cyber security burnout statistics by BitLyftCyber security burnout statistics by BitLyft

 

So why should employers care about cyber security burnout? It’s a real and present danger for employers. Here are four key risks associated with this growing problem:

  • Compromised security: When employees are burned out, they’re more likely to make mistakes that could jeopardize the security of your systems. According to a recent study, human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches.
  • Decreased productivity: Cyber security burnout can lead to reduced productivity as employees struggle to keep up with the demands of their job.
  • High employee turnover: The stresses of cyber security burnout can lead to high turnover, as employees look for less demanding and more manageable jobs.
  • Legal liabilities: If an employee makes a mistake that results in a data breach or other security incident, your company could be held liable.

How To Avoid Cyber Security Burnout

The good news is there are ways to combat burnout and stay mentally and physically healthy. Here are some tips to help prevent cyber security burnout among your employees.

Use security automation to enhance human analysts

Humans are the weakest link in any organization’s security posture. No matter how many technological security layers you have in place, it only takes one person to click on a malicious link or open a malicious attachment to potentially bring down your entire operation.

That’s why organizations are increasingly turning to security automation to help shore up their defenses. By automating repetitive and mundane tasks, security analysts can free up their time to focus on more strategic tasks that require human expertise.

Outsource some security tasks

By outsourcing, businesses can take the burden of protecting their data and systems off their employees. This strategy will reduce the risk of burnout and allow employees to focus on other tasks that are critical to the business.

Another benefit of outsourcing is that it can provide access to a larger pool of talent. By working with a security provider, businesses can tap into a team of experts who religiously keep up with the latest threats and vulnerabilities. This way, companies can be sure that their data and systems are always protected against the latest threats.

Create a comprehensive security plan

With so many potential cyber threats, and new ones emerging all the time, it can be challenging to know how to protect yourself. This feeling of being constantly on alert can often lead to burnout.

Creating a comprehensive security plan can help to ease some of this burden, as it can provide a clear and concise overview of the steps you need to take to keep your data and systems safe. By taking the time to sit down and create a plan, you can make sure that you cover all the bases and reduce the chances of becoming overwhelmed or burning out.

Get rid of unrealistic expectations of cyber security professionals

When people are constantly being told that they need to be “on the lookout” for new threats, it can lead to feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. It’s important to remember that no one is perfect and that it’s impossible to anticipate every single threat.

People in the cyber security field are people, too—they have families, need rest, and work best in an optimal state of health and wellness. It’s time for employers to stop glorifying long work hours, focus on employee wellness, and set realistic expectations regarding workloads.

Train staff to be cybersecurity-aware to help ease the workload

The incessant threat of cyber attacks and the need to constantly update security measures can be overwhelming for even the most experienced IT professionals.

Take some burden off your IT team by ensuring that your whole organization is cyber security aware. By doing this, you’re not only easing your IT team’s workload but also giving them the bandwidth to focus on bigger projects.

There are several ways to train staff in cyber security awareness. One of the most effective methods is to use phishing simulations and exercises. These can help employees understand the importance of cyber security and the potential consequences of a breach.

Additionally, it’s important to provide regular training on new security measures. This way, staff will be updated on the latest threats and better prepared to protect your organization.

Cyber security workplace burnout is not an unsolvable problem. Your organization just needs to make better efforts to reduce stress among your employees and promote a security-aware company culture.

 


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