Did you know that 80% of cybersecurity professionals are more stressed in their roles as a result of the pandemic? Data from the 2020/2021 report from the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) showed the impact of the pandemic on this already-stressful industry. The global crisis has made life harder for people in virtually every walk of life, and cybersecurity is no exception.
With security professionals forced to work from home, separating the workday from private life is even more difficult. What's more, there was extra pressure put on people across the industry.
According to Business Wire, cyber-attacks increased by 81%. This creates a lot of extra work for cybersecurity professionals to take on. Indeed, the study from CIISec showed that almost half of respondents regularly work 41 or more hours a week, with some working as many as 90.
Security automation is one way to relieve the strain placed on cybersecurity professionals. While some tasks need a human mind, there are others that can be automated. This leaves employees free to focus on other areas.
Let's take a look at why burnout is such a serious problem in cybersecurity. Finally, we'll cover where to start with security automation.
The Growing Problem of Burnout in Cybersecurity
Not only is cybersecurity burnout a problem for individual professionals, but it can also cause widespread problems for the industry and for clients. Finding ways to reduce stress and fatigue in the workplace isn't just good for individuals; it's good for every link in the chain.
In an increasingly digital world, cybersecurity is more vital today than it's ever been before. Don't let burnout be the chink in the armor that leaves your clients vulnerable to attack.
Perils of Alert Fatigue
Alert fatigue is a common problem in a number of high-stress roles. It refers to when professionals hear an alert so often that they start to ignore them.
In fact, according to a recent report conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) for Critical Start, companies with 500-1,499 employees ignore or don’t investigate 27% of all alerts they receive. This figure rises to 30% for companies with 1,500-4,999 employees.
Over time, staff essentially become numb to the sound of the alerts. The monotonous labor of attending to alerts increases the feeling of burnout. This ultimately leads to staff leaving roles for their own health, resulting in rapid staff turnover.
Fast Staff Turnover
People leaving their cybersecurity careers due to job burnout only worsens the problems. Security Magazine reports that 62% of respondents to their survey state that their cybersecurity teams are understaffed.
When teams don't have enough employees, still more work is piled on the remaining staff. This accelerates their own burnout, starting the whole cycle of alert fatigue and job exhaustion all over again.
Cybersecurity is also facing a dire cybersecurity talent shortage, with Security Magazine also reporting an 8% increase in unfilled roles since 2021. The rapid turnover of staff is not a welcoming environment for young cybersecurity professionals. Without new people entering the field, the skills gap will widen further.
Increased Risk of Successful Cybersecurity Attacks
Not only does job burnout for cybersecurity professionals damage their health and reduce the effectiveness of the whole team, but it can also put entire companies and clients at risk.
Stressed, overworked employees will find it harder to keep up with the increased number of threats. Cybercriminals know how to use fatigue and lack of attention to their advantage.
With the increased risk of missing dangers due to alert fatigue, combined with the poor mental health of cybersecurity professionals, addressing burnout is not just a welfare issue. It's a vital concern for the success of any cybersecurity team.
What Are the Benefits of Security Automation?
So, what's the solution? Security automation can help take the load off over-worked cybersecurity staff. What's more, it can do the job without a dip in the quality of security.
Here's a look at some of the benefits of security automation.
Improves Physical and Mental Health
Job burnout is connected to a number of mental health conditions, including an increased risk of anxiety and depression. However, it can also have a serious impact on your physical health.
A survey from the American Psychological Association shows that burnout can result in an increased likelihood of having heart disease, strokes, and sudden cardiac death. Other adverse conditions include type two diabetes, male infertility, sleep disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders among those with the extreme physical, mental and emotional fatigue.
Security automation can ease the workload for cybersecurity professionals, as well as take the pressure off them to remain on call during all hours of the day. Instead of 90-hour work weeks, staff can work regular hours and take care of their physical and mental health in their spare time.
Reduces Cybersecurity Costs
Improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity using security automation can help cement the importance of the field in any company. Being able to point to improved statistics and cost-to-value ratios will convince any boardroom heavyweight.
Managed detection and response (MDR) is one of the most affordable ways to boost your cybersecurity team efforts. It can do what many of the most capable teams can't, with 24/7 monitoring and the tools to respond to evolving threats.
Instead of putting pressure on staff to respond to new threats rapidly, security automation can handle the first-line response. This leaves employees free to invest their time elsewhere.
Stay Up to Date
With more time on their hands, cybersecurity teams can broaden their skill set. The world of security is always expanding and changing. Just as cybercriminals are always finding new techniques, cybersecurity staff need to stay ahead of the curve as well.
Learning new skills is a vital part of the role that many employees simply don't have time for at the moment. With automation able to lighten the load, staff could invest in personal development courses or attend conferences to make sure they're up to date on what they need to know.
Frees Up Time for New Projects
With all the time you can spend staying up to date on the latest developments in cyber security, you'll also have the time to invest that knowledge into new projects. Your clients and partners don't only want you to do the job they pay you for; they'll also be looking for fresh ideas.
By automating certain tasks, you and your team can dedicate more time to brainstorming smart new ideas. Armed with these, you'll be ready to impress your bosses, partners, and clients in your next meeting.
Win the Recruitment Battle
By being able to point to all of these benefits, your team will be far more attractive to job seekers. As a result, you will be able to more easily fill gaps in your team.
More staff and diverse skill sets will take your cybersecurity team to a new level. What's more, it will stop the cycle of burnout, as your long-term employees won't have as much heaped onto their to-do lists.
Where to Start With Security Automation
Now that you can see the benefits of security automation, next comes the question of where to start. Not everything in cybersecurity can be automated. There's plenty that still needs the human touch.
As with anything, there are some tasks that should be your priority when starting with automation. Here's a look at some of the top tasks to automate to make your and your colleagues' lives easier and more productive.
Start With Time-Intensive Tasks
The first area to look at is repetitive tasks that take a lot of time from your staff. The key is to find time-consuming tasks that don't require much analysis.
For example, incident response is a popular choice for automation. Security automation in this field will allow your team to triage alarms more effectively. By assigning responses to the right teams faster, you will be able to respond to threats more effectively and bring your response time down.
Automating time-intensive tasks will also mean that your team can work on more complex problems instead that cannot be automated. This is a far more effective use of resources, improving the overall effectiveness of the team.
Some common examples of simple tasks to automate include vulnerability scans and validating threats against threat intelligence. Other manual tasks like removing malicious emails from multiple user accounts, removing forwarding rules from email accounts, and scanning daily alerts. Essentially, security automation can handle any repetitive tasks, freeing up more human time and energy for more complex jobs.
Eliminate Manual Monitoring and Scanning
As noted above, MDR is one of the most affordable forms of security automation. These remotely-delivered systems enable organizations to rapidly detect, analyze, investigate, and actively respond to cybersecurity threats.
MDR services usually offer a 'turnkey' experience that will cover a predefined range of areas. These could include endpoint, network, and cloud services.
It will also collect relevant logs, data, and contextual information to help better inform staff and clients. From there, the platform itself can analyze the data to pass on for closer investigation by cybersecurity experts.
Once again, this is an excellent example of automating the repetitive tasks of cybersecurity, freeing up time and resources for human staff. It is known to be especially helpful for smaller cybersecurity teams. After the investigation has been completed by professionals, they can deliver actionable outcomes based on the insights from the MDR system.
In addition, you could also use tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to handle jobs like scanning, monitoring, and low-level incident response. RPA can also carry out tasks such as extracting and aggregating data, performing basic threat search and detection processes, and other repetitive tasks.
Make the Most of Automatic Software Updates
Most businesses already make the most of automatic software updates. It's such a simple step that you'd be surprised how often it gets overlooked, even by cybersecurity experts.
IT staff staying on top of the latest updates can be incredibly time-consuming. Cybersecurity often requires the use of various programs, all with their own updates. Ensure that automatic updates are turned on for every single one, so you don't get stuck with a dozen updates to do them all at once.
Using an outdated piece of software also means it won't be running at peak performance. This could slow down your workflow when you need it most, so act now to make sure it doesn't let you down in a pinch.
Save Time With Automatic Reports
Security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) technology refers to a stack of compatible software programs. Together, they enable an organization to collect data about security threats and respond to security events without less human input required.
The more you know about the security risks you face, the better prepared you are to face them. However, gathering all these data can be a time-consuming job. Even then, humans will often miss elements that automated systems won't.
Armed with this knowledge, you will also be able to report back to your bosses and clients in your next report meeting. Being able to prove that investing in security automation results in more knowledge about cybersecurity risks is an essential way of proving the worth of cybersecurity to C-suite leaders.
Down the line, you'll also be able to gather long-term learnings from SOAR technology. Cybersecurity is always changing, so investing in such automation early will pay off big time later on.
Get Started With Security Automation
All in all, security automation can help save time, resources, and even the mental health of cybersecurity staff. If you're keen to integrate security automation into your workflow, BitLyft is here to help.
If you're looking for more information on how to get security automation working for you, we recommend watching this webinar we did with the Information Systems Security Association International. In the webinar we discuss how automation can combine with human staff to improve your overall cybersecurity.