SOC and IT security teams suffer from stress and burnout outside work: report

SOC and IT security teams feel burned out after working hours, a Trend Micro study has discovered, and managers are overwhelmed with high volume of alerts.

SOC (security operations centres) and IT security teams in Australia and New Zealand are suffering from high levels of stress outside of the working day—with alert overload as culprit, according to a study by Trend Micro.

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents say their home lives are being emotionally impacted by their work, which is to manage IT threat alerts. Three in five (60%) feel their team is being overwhelmed by the volume of alerts and 43% admit that they are not confident in their ability to prioritise and respond to them.

It is no wonder therefore that teams are spending on average 26% of their time dealing with false positives.

These findings are corroborated by a recent Forrester study, which found that “security teams are heavily understaffed when it comes to incident response, even as they face more attacks. Security operations centres (SOCs) need a more-effective method of detection and response; thus, XDR takes a dramatically different approach to other tools on the market today.”

Outside work, the high volumes of alerts leave many SOC managers unable to switch off or relax, and they tend to be irritable with friends and family. Inside work, they cause individuals to turn off alerts (45% do so occasionally or frequently), walk away from their computer (49%), hope another team member will step in (57%), or ignore what is coming in entirely (45%).

Dr Victoria Baines, cybersecurity researcher and author, says: “We are used to cybersecurity being described in terms of people, process, and technology.

All too often, though, people are portrayed as a vulnerability rather than an asset, and technical defences are prioritised over human resilience. It is high time we renewed our investment in our human security assets. That means looking after our colleagues and teams, and ensuring they have tools that allow them to focus on what humans do best.”

With 66% of respondents already dealing with a breach or expecting one within the year, and the estimated average cost per breach is US$235,000, the consequences of such actions could be disastrous.

Mick McCluney, Trend Micro ANZ technical director, notes: “SOC team members play a crucial role on the cyber frontline, managing and responding to threat alerts to keep their organisations safe from potentially catastrophic breaches. But as this research shows, that pressure sometimes comes at an enormous personal cost.”

McCluney suggests: “To avoid losing their best people to burnout, especially as Australia and New Zealand face ongoing cybersecurity talent shortages, organisations must look to more sophisticated threat detection and response platforms that can correlate and prioritise alerts. This will not only improve overall protection but also enhance analyst productivity and job satisfaction levels.”

Trend Micro Vision One is Trend Micro’s answer to the struggles of SOC teams. Prioritised, correlated alerts using data from the entire IT environment help teams spend their time more wisely. Fewer alerts and stronger intelligence allow teams to regain balance in their work life and ease the emotional toll of security.


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