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The Cybersecurity Professionals Burnout is Real – Here’s How Automation Can Help

It’s no news that cybersecurity professionals are experiencing dangerous burnout levels.

In a recent PR, Gartner mentioned that nearly half of the cybersecurity leaders will change jobs by 2025, with 25% pursuing different roles entirely due to workplace stress. 

A global study by Mimecast, found that nearly a third of cybersecurity professionals are considering quitting their jobs. 

When asked about the risks they face relating to their role, stress (59%) and burnout (48%) were the top responses by CISOs, according to a recent survey by the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

Matt Aiello, partner, and leader of the cyber practice at Heidrick, said:

“They’re choosing to punch out. What we hear in off-line conversations is that it’s a great role, but it’s very hard, and the regulatory pressures are increasing, and that makes being a CISO even more challenging.”

So, why have cybersecurity roles become so unbearable? 


The Roots of Cybersecurity Fatigue

To successfully investigate the roots of burnout, a deeper dive into the daily work processes of security teams must be taken. A closer look will show that, for some reason, many of these processes are still manual, siloed, and involve administrative work. 

Security teams today are required to deploy a variety of scanners to monitor an ever-growing attack surface – from cloud security to vulnerability management, application security, and SaaS security scanners. 

While this approach helps organizations better understand risks across the scope of possible attack vectors, it also brings downpours of findings to the security team’s desk, resulting in alert fatigue.

Consider that today’s average enterprise deploys 45 cybersecurity-related tools, each flagging thousands of daily findings, which security teams need to manually sift through at any given time. That not only makes workers more prone to error but also takes a toll on their well-being. 

And what’s the only thing in common with all these findings?

The security team cannot fix any of them. And so, they are forced to play matchmaker between remediation tickets and fixers – either development, DevOps, or IT teams. 

This process is managed inefficiently, as security professionals find themselves stuck managing administrative tasks and passing action items between teams and work environments. This bottleneck bogs down investigations around whether any given risk is critical and needs to be prioritized, further adding to the backlog and appropriating precious time in which those critical risks could have been addressed.

Adding to these technical frustrations is the enormous amount of pressure placed on these teams to bolster their organization’s cyber posture. Studies show that 75% of cybersecurity analysts spend their days worrying about missing incidents, a third of whom admit to worrying “a lot.” Their worries are understandable – failure to meet these mounting expectations and the security of the entire organization (and possibly their job) is put at risk.

Not only do these compounding issues have a tangible negative effect on security teams’ daily tasks, but the subsequent burnout can lead to high employee turnover in cybersecurity roles. Which, in turn, affects the retention of critical organizational knowledge and further fuels the remediation bottleneck.

The impact of this unsustainable remediation model is that it perpetually puts security teams on the back foot – consistently in “firefighting” mode, with more fires than they have buckets of water for. Business leaders and security managers must revisit their remediation strategy to relieve fatigue and burnout. They should strive to initiate a process that puts their security teams in a position of proactiveness rather than reactiveness. 

Accordingly, organizational leaders would do well to seek out any relevant tools to weed out duplicates, aggregate findings across security platforms, and significantly minimize backlogs. Such tools should also automate manual tasks and automatically assign tickets to the appropriate teams as soon as previous ones are closed, thus unclogging both the bottleneck and the backlog.


A Farewell to Fatigue

Finding and dashboard fatigue can create a vicious cycle of inefficiency – in which cybersecurity teams cannot keep managing the growing number of findings. They must constantly chase after risks, which in turn leads to employee burnout, high turnover rates, and an organizational security posture that is more prone to human error, yielding yet more findings and risk.

Throwing human resources at the problem won’t go very far – adding more employees into a system that chews them up and spits them out will only contribute to further employee burnout, not a safer enterprise. Instead, decision-makers and security leaders need to focus on optimization and automation, adopting solutions that allow security professionals to stress less and fix more. Security teams that are empowered by fewer findings and swifter internal processes will be more effective in their mission of keeping their organization safe. 


How Seemplicity Helps

Security teams that effectively leverage security orchestration and automation using a platform like Seemplicity can spend less time manually connecting the dots between fragmented security findings, siloed teams, and distributed tracking systems. 

Using a platform like Seemplicity will free up valuable time for security teams and allow them to focus on their actual work rather than spend time on administering remediation. 

We welcome you to sign up for a Seemplicity demo today. 

The Great Risk Reduction Fire

On a quiet Sunday morning in 1904, a fire broke out on the west side of downtown Baltimore. It started to spread quickly, and soon it became apparent that the city’s firefighters could not fight it alone. Immediately, calls for help were telegraphed to other cities.

Fire companies from New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Harrisburg, and elsewhere rushed in to help and had more than enough water and people to fight the fire. 

There was only one problem – most of their fire hoses wouldn’t fit Baltimore’s hydrants. So with many firefighters having to sit on the sidelines, the fire prolonged to 31 hours and damaged an area the size of 80 blocks.

How could that be, you ask?

Apparently, in 1904, there were roughly 600 varieties of fire hydrant hose couplings and outlets in the US. This incident brought the National Fire Protection Association to push for a change, and in 1905 a standard was proposed and adopted by several large US industry groups.


Similarly, Security Teams are also Left Alone to Fight the Fire.

The Great Baltimore Fire ended up being the most destructive in the United States since the Great Chicago Fire. You can’t help but think how much damage would have been avoided if reinforcements could help. 

It’s a tragic example demonstrating the critical importance of standards for products that need to interoperate for the safety and protection of individuals.

Ironically when it comes to the cyber security world, lack of standardization is still a common problem. 

Security teams have to manage endless lists of security findings from disparate scanning tools, not to mention the constant hand-raising and spreadsheet management that is still prevalent for tracking the progress of remediation tasks.

These fragmented processes increase friction, slow remediation down significantly, and keep security teams in a constant firefighting mode.

A recent survey conducted among over 400 IT decision-makers at companies with 500+ employees in the US and UK found that:


“When asked about the aspect of their role that they disliked most, 30% cited the lack of a work-life balance, with 27% saying that much time was spent on ‘firefighting’ rather than addressing strategic business issues.”


Managing Findings from Disparate Security Tools 

When it comes to security scanning tools, findings come in all shapes and sizes.

A key challenge in the remediation process is making sense of the numerous and diverse streams of scan and monitoring data. 

Each of the many types of scanners deployed has a unique set of metrics and log data structure. 

For example, the level of severity alone has many different scales across various tools: 

Seemplicity data sources

Gaining timely and actionable insight into a system’s overall security posture status requires an in-depth understanding of these tools, mainly because there isn’t one system that standardizes all the findings.

As a result, the security team has to manually organize the data from the different scanners – make sure there are no duplications, and try to prioritize it best they can before handing it over to remediation teams – Development, DevOps, and IT. 


Assigning Remediation Tasks to “Fixer” Teams

What’s the only thing in common with all security scanning tools?

Security teams cannot fix any of their findings.

One of the critical challenges that security teams face is that although they are responsible for identifying findings, they cannot actually fix the risks they find. Instead, they need to assign them to the right team for remediation.

The “fixer” teams usually have a full-stack responsibility and therefore require one consistent and prioritized security backlog to help them understand what is on their to-do list.

The fact that communication between these two teams relies on multiple different reports, with varying formats and scorings, creates a great deal of noise that necessitates an enormous amount of manual work, leading to an inefficient remediation process that is full of friction and wasted time.

There’s a fundamental necessity for a system that will standardize the communication of remediation workflows between Security and fixer teams. 


Follow up on Security Findings Fixes

Even after the remediation task has been assigned, the security team has to follow up to ensure that it was fixed and collect data on different metrics for reporting purposes. Since many teams are responsible for fixing risks, security teams spend a significant amount of time following up with various teams using different tools.

Once again, the lack of standardization slows the tracking and verification process.


The lack of standardization causes the lives of security teams to be more about putting out fires rather than focusing on long-term planning. But do they need to spend so much of their time on “administration”?


How to Standardize Risk Reduction Workflows

It is clear that security teams require one standardized and centralized platform that consolidates end-to-end remediation from the minute a security finding is discovered to its complete remediation. 

Seemplicity was created just for this purpose. It brings standardization to risk reduction and uses process orchestration to manage the remediation workflow lifecycle end-to-end across various teams and systems, unifying multiple individual tasks into one smart unit and automating hand-offs between teams and tools. 

Using a platform like Seemplicity, security teams can effectively leverage security orchestration and automation and spend less time manually connecting the dots between fragmented security findings, siloed teams, and distributed tracking systems. 

We welcome you to sign up for a Seemplicity demo today.