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6 Tips to Avoid Burnout in Cybersecurity

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

Cyber security professionals experience stress and work-life issues as most other professionals do in our digital world; meetings, deadlines, training and audits all contribute to a routine level of job-related stress in cyber security. And then a cyber security incident occurs.

Cyber security is, by its nature, a 24/7 profession; you never know when an event or incident may occur, nor how long it will take to resolve an issue and cyber security teams can’t hang an “out to lunch” sign on their door. Cyber security incident response teams have some of the same stress characteristics as fire departments; periods of routine activity with spikes of intense work with a lot of stress, visibility and pressure.

When a cyber security incident occurs, work-life balance goes out the window and stress goes up. Routine work is disrupted, which can be stressful for some people, and the pressure from management to “fix” the incident quickly can lead to cyber burnout

What is cyber burnout?

Cyber burnout isn’t any different than other job-related burnout; exhaustion, irritability, apathy, feelings of being ineffective or hopeless. The list is long and varies with the individual and how they react to job-related stress.

Recognizing the symptoms of cyber burnout and taking action can be critical to retaining cyber security personnel and maintaining an environment that is healthy and productive for both the employee and for the business. Cyber burnout symptoms are similar to other stress-related symptoms; fatigue, inability to focus, frustration, feelings of work or life being out-of-control. These symptoms in cyber security personnel can lead to lapses in security, and lapses in security can lead to disruption of business or even data breaches.

How can we avoid burnout?

Here are 6 tips that can help prevent or limit cyber burnout:

  1. Establish boundaries between work and personal life. This can be as simple as defining what are work hours and what are home life hours or switching off your phone after work.

  2. Be aware of the symptoms of burnout and the support available to help you reduce the causes of burnout - your employer may offer specific support.

  3. Establish regular “out-to-lunch” or “time-out” periods. These can be used to go out to lunch or just provide time that is not directly focused on work issues.

  4. Engage with your team and, if you are a manager, your reports. Ask if they are feeling burned out. Sometimes, just showing concern is enough to reduce cyber burnout.

  5. Enable an environment where cyber security personnel are comfortable discussing stress and burnout. Make sure that conversations about stress and burnout are not treated as signs of weakness.

  6. Reduce workload. Consider how you can outsource cyber security work to trusted and experienced vendors to give your cyber security personnel bandwidth and breathing space.

3Factor has managed some of the largest breaches in the past decade. 3Factor Cyber Defense Services can leverage our experience to help clients recover quickly from an incident and also lighten the amount of stress of managing an incident response.


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