Your Security Team is Overworked: How to Give Time Back


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Thursday, January 27, 2022

There is a lot of pressure on the security team within any organization, as they work to firefight a range of threats from different directions. With all this, they can often feel overwhelmed and burned out which can lead to costly breaches. So how do you give them time back so that they can do their work effectively and efficiently?

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Your Security Team is Overworked: How to Give Time Back
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With 67% of organizations currently facing a shortage in cybersecurity staff, the responsibility for safeguarding digital assets falls disproportionately on overworked teams. Already stretched thin by the expanding threat landscape and limited resources, many security professionals are working above and beyond their prescribed hours, while 90% have admitted to working whilst on vacation

A reliable security team needs regular time off in order to function effectively and react as required when faced with a threat. Today’s growing attack surface requires high levels of vigilance from security teams, which can be exhausting, especially if they’re reliant on technologies that may not be up to standard. However, there are solutions available that can give your security team the chance to perform at their best, ensuring they’re not at risk of overwork or stress. 

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The evolving role of security

While many elements of the security function can be automated or technology-led, there is always demand for experienced security analysts and security teams to manage efforts and keep best practices in place. Depending on your company size and function, you may have anything from an individual security officer to an entire department responsible for maintaining your security. However, given the demands of the current cyber landscape, covering all your bases in-house may require employees to stretch beyond their existing skillsets and experience levels, which is where symptoms of stress and overwork can arise. 

Signs of overwork and burnout

Working too hard, too much, or too long is classified as overwork. Exceeding your capacity to the point where it impacts your health or ability to perform are also clear indicators of overwork. Prolonged overwork can swiftly turn into burnout if you don’t act quickly, and it’s not something you want any of your employees to experience. The World Health Organization categorizes burnout as an occupational phenomenon that occurs as a result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It has been reported that 59% of senior security professionals in the UK are currently suffering from burnout, with 68% of those surveyed being C-suite level executives. 

Overworked security teams are also contending with alert fatigue, where the impossibly high volume of alerts desensitizes the people responding to them, leading to a diminished ability to react and respond to potentially legitimate threats. With more than half of large organizations facing over 1,000 alerts each day, it’s no surprise that roughly 1-in-3 are either ignored or not investigated at all. The constant vigilance required by security teams makes their roles extremely high-pressure, increasing their likelihood of experiencing burnout. It is essential for both the wellbeing of these employees and the security of the organization that time is given back to these teams. 

How to give time back to your security team

Practical ways of giving time back to your security team are often found within your existing structure and processes. 

Build a framework

Disorganization is a close friend of stress. Therefore, an organized structure is vital in minimizing unnecessary stress for security teams. If you feel your team is not well organized, then it’s important to put some structure in place. Building a framework to formalize how security professionals approach their work can help alleviate some pressure and add structure to their processes, reducing the stress caused by a lack of organization. 

Develop processes and procedures

A roadmap through each stage of work can avoid security staff getting side-tracked or focusing too much in a certain area. If your analysts focus their energies on dead-end leads or are preoccupied with controls that are not central to operations, much of their time is wasted. Well established and easy-to-follow processes and procedures can stop security employees from falling into time traps and losing sight of what’s important. Consider resource allocation as a key process for overcoming issues and improving communications within your security team. 

Stick to goals and priorities

Strategy alone is not enough. You can spend hours strategizing and creating bold visions for your security services, but actions are what matter. Each functional area of your security department should have specific goals and priorities in line with the company’s broader vision for cybersecurity. Documenting these goals and priorities turns them into actionable processes, and each goal should have specific criteria to meet, so the team have something defined to work towards. You can also assess the value of any given activity against these goals. Does said activity contribute to the business’ security goals and improve its posture? If not, it probably isn’t worth the effort. 

Prove the tools and additional expertise

One of the most valuable ways to support your security team is investing in the tools, technology, and expertise necessary to manage their jobs. Many organizations utilize managed detection and response (MDR) to help bolster their security defenses and avoid the risk of alert fatigue in their internal team. The combination of technologies offered by MDR reduces the workload on the security department by providing the techniques, tools, and human expertise required by the in-house team to support their endeavors. 

MDR provides a dedicated 24/7 monitoring team and service which boosts your security response and cyber resilience. As there is no downtime with MDR, you can benefit from immediate responses to suspicious activity, allowing for faster threat mitigation and, in worst-case scenarios, reduced recovery times. MDR utilizes sophisticated techniques from threat hunting to user and entity behavior analytics and high-level incident response to support your in-house security. It exists on a single platform and draws together AI, the latest technologies, and highly experienced security professionals to support your enterprise’s security defenses. 

Recognizing your security team is under pressure and overworked allows you to assess your defenses. As well as supporting your team and ensuring their health and wellbeing is positive, you may realize the benefit of investing in further technological and security support to aid them in their work, while simultaneously protecting your business.

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