Cybersecurity Alert Fatigue

Cybersecurity Alert Fatigue

What It Is, Why It's a Problem, and the Challenge of Combating it

Cyber attacks grow more relentless and sophisticated each year. To defend themselves against threats, organisations typically turn to additional tools for strengthening their security programmes and protecting their attack surface.

While tools can enhance protection and visibility, they also, in turn, generate a massive volume of events and alerts. And therein lies the problem.

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When faced with a deluge of potential attacks, security analysts can quickly become overwhelmed. In fact, many attacks succeed not because a tool failed to raise an alert, but because the alert was missed or ignored by an analyst.

What is Alert Fatigue?

When analysts receive an overwhelming number of alerts from cybersecurity tools and are tasked with spending time reviewing and responding to each one, it can create an environment where it is impossible to distinguish important alerts from the unimportant ones.

Common tools that can trigger additional alerts and contribute to alert fatigue include: but are not limited to

Firewall Icon

Firewalls

Endpoint Security

Endpoint Security

Cloud Security Icon

Cloud Security

This operating environment of all noise and no signal is known as “cybersecurity alert fatigue,” and it has real costs for the professionals and businesses impacted by it.

Alert Fatigue

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A state experienced by security professionals exposed to a high volume of alerts in a brief period, resulting in decreased effectiveness and detection of legitimate threats.

Why Alert Fatigue is a Problem

Alert fatigue is not just an overwhelming annoyance, it can be a major risk for your entire organisation. Alert fatigue has real, quantifiable impacts on an organisation’s finances, staffing, and security.
Climbing Alerts, Climbing Costs
Depending on your industry and the size of your organisation, your daily alert count can climb into the tens or even hundreds of thousands. Each of these alerts has the potential to represent a real threat, but the sheer fire-hose volume of them can quickly overwhelm a security team.
According to IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost of a data breach in the US reached $9.05 million in 2021.
THIS MEANS:
Organisations cannot afford to ignore a single alert. Yet, when a security team is impacted by alert fatigue, more than a quarter of alerts get ignored — every week.
Number of alerts received by the average security operations team each day
Number of alerts received by the average security operations team each day
Percentage of IT Teams that admit to ignoring many lower priority alerts
Percentage of IT Teams that admit to ignoring many lower priority alerts.

The Challenges of Staffing

Staffing a cybersecurity team is an expensive (and ongoing) undertaking for any organisation.
It can be difficult to secure enough budget to cover adequate headcount, to say nothing of the challenge in attracting and retaining scarce, sought-after cybersecurity talent.

When these hard-won analysts spend substantial amounts of time reviewing and responding to the deluge of alerts they are being kept from the high-value tasks and strategic initiatives you really need them for.

THIS MEANS:

Your organisation ends up paying top-dollar talent to complete low-skill tasks.

More than 25 percent of false positive security alerts fielded by organizations

Percent of security alerts fielded by organisations that are false positives

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Hours per week the average security analyst spends responding to false positive alerts
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Average median hourly wage for an information security analyst in 2020
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Yearly cost of false positive alerts per analyst

Threats & Concerns

Analyst Burnout