More than half of cybersecurity workers impacted by burnout

CyberArk states that it is more important than ever for cybersecurity professionals to be performing adequately
CyberArk reveals 59% of security professionals are suffering from burnout, ultimately impacting job performance and cyber defences during a skills shortage

Research from identity security firm CyberArk shows that more than half of senior security professionals (59%) in the UK are impacted by burnout, with 68% surveyed being C-level executive decision makers.

These professionals are experiencing burnout at work, which has impacted their ability to perform their jobs effectively.

This comes in the wake of another report finding that cybersecurity staff are currently facing burnout, with a lack of key skills remaining a primary concern for these workers. This pressure also means that less than half of companies are confident in their ability to handle the biggest threats facing organisations, including phishing (56%) and malware (55%).

Workload grows, cybersecurity concerns remain

As workloads continue to grow in response to ever-evolving cyber threats, the study found that burnout has impacted the ability of cybersecurity professionals to do their job effectively. This is especially true as the volume of cyberattacks continues to escalate and cause damage to businesses.

These findings from CyberArk are concerning, particularly as they have been released during a time that sees the global shortage of cybersecurity professionals standing at 3.4 million. In addition, security professionals already in the workforce may not be able to protect their organisation as effectively against external threats.

Over the past 12 months, CyberArk states that 80% of UK organisations have experienced a ransomware attack, up from 70% last year, with 47% of those affected having paid a ransom at least twice to allow recovery.

Ransomware attacks in particular are rising again, with large companies being impacted - sometimes catastrophically. The most recent of which was Boeing, which fell victim to a ransomware cyber incident that impacted parts of its distribution business.

The Lockbit cybercrime gang stated that it had stolen large amounts of sensitive data from Boeing in a ransomware attack, stating that it would publish the contents online if Boeing did not pay them.

Security teams are often asked to work long hours to protect against cyber threats, despite budgets and available resources continuing to shrink as a result of monetary pressures. CyberArk therefore states that it is more important than ever for cybersecurity professionals to be performing adequately - but research suggests that burnout could be hampering those efforts. 

“The ability to monitor for interference in an organisation’s tech infrastructure and shifts in the threat landscape is integral to every security professional’s role, given the fast-paced and impactful nature of cyberattacks,” says David Higgins, Senior Director, Field Technology Office at CyberArk. “Burnout is alarming in that context, because it impairs the ability to defend their organisation. One wrong decision or missed signal can open the door to reputational and monetary damage for an organisation.”

Burnout leads to industry skills gap: More support needed

With 66% of those experiencing burnout serving as c-level executives (ie. senior decision makers who are directly responsible for organisation’s cyber defence mechanisms), these findings are cause for significant concern.

According to CyberArk, this rise in burnout is an even bigger concern in the context of ongoing increased turnover and talent shortage in the industry. In particular, last year, the global shortage of cybersecurity professionals stood at 3.4 million, compared with a total cyber workforce of 4.7 million, according to research by ISC2, an association for cyber security professionals. 

ISC2 also identified new challenges that are affecting cybersecurity professionals, such as economic uncertainty, AI, regulatory fragmentation and skills gaps.

CyberArk says that employees affected by burnout may choose to move on to other opportunities or take a step back from their work to help improve their wellbeing. In security, that means reduced numbers of expert personnel and heightened levels of vulnerability for their employer. 

The company’s research suggests that 61% of cyber security professionals believe that ‘regular’ employee turnover in the next 12 months will also cause security issues.

Commenting on the findings, Higgins adds: “Employee burnout affecting cybersecurity teams needs to be addressed – and fast – if organisations want to keep their cyber defences watertight. Using AI and technology tools can boost proactive defences and also help alleviate ‘low level’ workloads, for example automating threat detection and response or to support identity risk analysis. 

“Automation can mean practitioners are better able to focus on more meaningful tasks. But above all, directly addressing ongoing threats – whether from internal or external sources – requires a workforce that is mentally, physically and technically equipped to keep attacks at bay. And that should be an absolute priority.” 

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