Suffering from ‘cyber fatigue’? You’re not alone.

Cyber security can cause people to feel overwhelmed, out of their depth and powerless to manage the threats they face today. That's why 'cyber fatigue' is such a common problem.

Cisco addresses this problem in their sixth annual CISO Benchmark Study, which provides an insight into the challenges facing over 2,800 security professionals from 13 countries globally. Issues such as unpatched vulnerabilities, zero trust, and cloud security are covered in the report. But it is cyber fatigue that particularly interested us at teiss.

What is cyber fatigue? It is defined by the study as 'virtually giving up on proactively defending against malicious actors'. Obviously it can really have a harmful impact on organisations. And 42% of respondents were reported to be suffering from cyber security fatigue.

What causes cyber fatigue?

Almost all (96%) of those suffering from cyber fatigue complain that managing a multi-vendor environment can be extremely challenging. There seems to be a strong relationship between multi-vendor environments and growing fatigue. This complexity is the main cause of burnout.

Too many alerts are also proven to exacerbate cyber fatigue. Out of the people suffering from cyber fatigue, 93% of them receive more than 5,000 alerts every day. As alerts increase over the years, so does cyber fatigue.

A third cause of cyber fatigue, perhaps unsurprisingly, is suffering a major and extended cyber breach, with the number of hours of downtime influencing the extent of the fatigue.

How to cure cyber fatigue

How can cyber fatigue be lessened? Because the complexity of security resource management is one of the reasons for cyber security fatigue, outsourcing this management might help. Another strategy is to simplify supply chains.

Steve Martino, Senior Vice President and CISO at Cisco, says: “As organizations increasingly embrace digital transformation, CISOs are placing higher priority in adopting new security technologies to reduce exposure against malicious actors and threats. Often, many of these solutions don’t integrate, creating substantial complexity in managing their security environment. To address this issue, security professionals will continue steady movement towards vendor consolidation."

Another solution is automation, which could be the answer to coping with the volume of alerts. The study explains: 'Automation enables policies to be enforced more consistently, quickly, and efficiently. When a device is determined to be infected or vulnerable, it’s automatically quarantined or denied access with no action required from an administrator'.

And finally fatigue should be reduced as security improves. Increasing reliance on cloud security and automation to strengthen their security posture will reduce the risk of breaches and along with it the fatigue arising from them.

Ultimately, cyber fatigue is a very real and human response to a complex problem. Security leaders need to accept this, looking for ways to reduce stress and burnout if they wish to prevent cyber fatigue from contributing to major security breaches.