With the stakes on cybersecurity teams continuing to rise at an unprecedented pace, CISOs should identify ways that will help them to address the burnout challenges of today’s working environment.
Cybersecurity teams are under immense pressure to protect their respective organizations, much more than ever. With organizations having to incur US $ 4.24 million in 2021 to data breach according to IBM’s ‘Cost of Data Breach Report 2021,’ while simultaneously dealing with challenges of hiring and retaining top talent, the situation has never been worse for CISOs and their teams.
The crisis level incident has continuously led to driving burnout. While working extra hours and being available at all hours is considered a norm among cybersecurity teams, the current scenario of security breaches and rising burnout is anything but the norm. If CISOs and their teams continue to be this overworked, organizations may continue to witness deteriorating work culture and may find it challenging to sustain their position in the marketplace. Hence, it is critical that other C-suite executives collaborate with CISOs to address this situation.
Indeed, CISOs cannot control when the security incident occurs, but they can control how their team and the overall organization are for those security incidents. By preparing in advance, CISOs can help to address burnout drivers while creating a more sustainable environment:
Stop glorifying the culture of security heroism
Most cybersecurity teams still endorse the culture of heroism where they have pulled all-nights to defend their organization or investigate a threat. While this may give them a sense of pride, it all leads to an unhealthy work-life balance. In fact, as per Tessian’s report, titled “Reclaiming Hours Lost to Cybersecurity Incidents,” on average CISOs work extra 11 hours more than they are contracted to each week. Additionally, 10% of the respondents claimed they work between 20 to 24 hours extra in a week.
If a team always has to loop in the CISO or the CISO always has to be at the forefront for incident response work, it shows that the team emphasized the notion of heroics rather than effective and sustainable work. This can set the team up for serious burnout. CISOs should proactively set expectations and have a solid response strategy in place to avoid this. They should educate security teams on how to reach when a security incident occurs, especially during the holidays. Setting clear expectations also helps the CISOs to create a better experience for themselves and their employees.
Automate wherever necessary
Human errors associated with security incidents take up a significant chunk of CISOs’ time. Most CISOs and cybersecurity teams spend a considerable amount of work remediating threats caused by employees. This led to excessive time on triaging and investigation that could have been spent on reinforcing the infrastructure. Therefore, CISOs should have automated tools and processes that can help them to create efficiencies that drastically reduce needless work while freeing time up for the most crucial tasks. Having a well-defined automation setup will engage the right team members at the right time and help prevent the unpredictability that drives burnout.
Reassessing burnout for the hybrid and remote workplace
There have been discussions about cybersecurity burnout across the industry in the past, however, it is critical that those conversations evolve to reflect on the new realities of work. With employees working most of their time working from home, dealing with high-stress, high-stakes cybersecurity situations has a very different mental health impact. While it is important for CISOs and their team members to be readily available for the threats, it is also essential to recognize challenges in remote situations and create humane and sustainable experiences around them. This will allow CISOs to deliver operationally sound security outcomes. Additionally, CISOs and their organizations should invest in the right solutions and correct staffing level to prevent and manage burnout.
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