What happens when your co-passengers are engrossed in their mobiles/ PDAs and the driver feels drowsy at the wheel? Well, he can’t monitor the road for safe driving, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, the threats that cybersecurity experts have to deal with on a daily basis are a bit less obvious than hulking frames of glass and metal hurtling your way. And yet, as the business’ first line of defence against potential threats, they are expected to be on alert 24*7 year in and year out.

In a recent study, Accenture reported that nearly 68% of business leaders feel on edge about rapidly ramping cybersecurity risks. The view is amplified by RiskBased who report an estimated 36 billion data records breached just in the first half of 2020. With remote operations and anywhere operations becoming the norm in the aftermath of the pandemic, a rise in digital breaches was expected. But even so, the scale and number of attacks in 2020 has been unnerving. Moreover, with 5G connectivity enabling faster speeds and bandwidth of connected devices; it also has the untoward effect of making cyber-attacks faster and more efficient. And yet, Varonis reports that only 5% of companies have adequate security structures in place to protect business information in folders.

What is cybersecurity burnout?

With cybersecurity skills gap remaining an issue for the foreseeable future, it’s little wonder that most of the present cybersecurity workforce remains stressed and overworked. BitSight estimates that 91 per cent of CISOs report medium to high levels of stress, prompting them to think about quitting. With 63 per cent of organizations facing a severe crisis in cybersecurity staff, employee burnout has become a major cause of headache for cybersecurity managers.

In this article, we will provide you with 6 Tips to Avoid Cybersecurity Burnout.

  • Develop a comprehensive and up-to-date training program for ALL employees

Yes, you read that right. We said ALL employees. A recent report by Cybint states that 95% of cybersecurity breaches are a result of human error. This means that your employees are your most vulnerable link in the cybersecurity chain. They need to understand the importance of cybersecurity, the need for security protocols, roles, and responsibilities in the event of an attack and the value of infosec personnel. Apart from that, you also need to include iterative training for the relevant personnel so they stay up-to-date with the most recent tools, tips and techniques in cybersecurity operations.

  • Discourage ‘multi-tasking’ and let employees ‘mono-task’

Cybersecurity personnel often end up donning multiple hats, especially at smaller organizations. This can draw focus away from their core tasks and actually lead to faster burnouts given the sheer workload on their plates. Managers can effectively combat this challenge by actively discouraging ‘multi-tasking’ and promoting focus on smaller, achievable tasks with the right tools and clear instructions to achieve them. At IT Services Los Angeles, we have also found that this strategy can also enable managers to have a better view of team member’s capacities and prevent overload.

  • Allow flexibility for infosec employees

Infosec employees are notorious for overtime work as in the case of a breach anywhere in the industry, they need to work double-time to constantly monitor and quadruple-check system defences. Now you might think that the overtime pay is adequate recompense, but in reality, all those late or all-nighters and travel are throwing your employees’ work-life balances out of whack. You can soften the blow with increased flexibility for work-from-home, an increase in paid time off and paid leave for new parents or employees with invalid dependents, so they have some breathing space to manage their work and personal lives comfortably.

  • Enable a change of guard at regular intervals

Cybersecurity experts, especially those involved in cyber monitoring, are essentially your digital vanguards. To stay alert and focused on threats, they need periods of relaxation and rejuvenation so they can defend your business against evolving threats. A rotating roster of experts can prevent fatigue and burnout overwhelming people tasked with threat monitoring. And fresh eyes are always more alert in spotting and preparing for threats in advance. Consider opting for Managed IT Security services in case your in-house IT teams are already stretched thin.

  • Circle in team-bonding activities and downtime

While work from home and leaves are great, you should ensure that your employees have enough fun and relaxation and not over stressed by the high pressures of threat monitoring and response. You should regularly build in blocks of team bonding activities and just relaxation times even while your employees are ‘on the clock’. Even if it’s just a visit to a local café or pub, this kind of downtime helps a lot in building camaraderie and bonding between people, so they can come together as a team when the need arises. If nothing else, it will allow your team members some amount of ‘unplugged team’ when they desperately need it.  

  • Let employees talk it out

Find people to connect with who have the same set of problems can be very empowering for your employees. It allows them to have a safe haven for talking about stress, discussing their problems and brainstorming on ways to manage them effectively. It would be great to have an in-house certified professional for employees to turn to when they really need help one-on-one, but group discussions can be highly effective as well. What’s required, more than anything else, is for employees to feel secure enough to come forward and ask for help when they need it. Your program should also consider the scope of getting families involved as well as they can provide a powerful support structure.

Even with all these handy tips and tricks, combating burnout in the cybersecurity space is a challenging task. As leaders, we owe it our employees to provide a safe, manageable and happy space to work as they devote themselves tirelessly to the fight against numerous cyber threats targeting our businesses every single day.

About Brent Whitfield:

Brent Whitfield is the CEO of DCG Technical Solutions LLC. DCG provides specialist advice and IT Support Los Angeles area businesses need to remain competitive and productive while being sensitive to limited IT budgets.
Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business. He also leads SMBTN – Los Angeles, a MSP peer group that focuses on continuing education for MSP’s and IT professionals. DCG was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP mentor.