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August 17, 2022

The biggest cyber threat to your organization: Your CISO’s burnout

Cybersecurity experts’ jobs are extremely demanding – they must be on high alert for many hours every day and often around the clock. So, it’s important that their working environment is as stress-free and supportive as possible so that they can do their job properly and have their heads screwed on right in high-pressure situations.

However, the latest reports show that this is far from reality. 


CISOs work extreme hours and experience burnout
Lacking remote work security and overload of (manual) tasks
Is your CISO ready to quit?
Automation for the rescue


CISOs work extreme hours and experience burnout 

Based on a report by Tessian, since the beginning of the pandemic, 99% of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) work extra hours every week. On average, they work around 10 hours every day. Even more disturbing is that 1 in 13 CISOs works 20-24 extra hours per week, which amounts to around 12 hours of work per day. 

These numbers don’t leave much time for winding down or spending time with one’s family. Roughly 40% of CISOs admit that due to their workload, they missed important holidays or family events, like Christmas and birthdays. This massively affects CISOs’ private life and mental health.  

All this makes your cybersecurity staff more vulnerable to fatigue, stress, and other signs of burnout that affect their ability to perform their highly demanding job well. Indirectly, this also puts your company at increased risk of cyberattacks, as the staff is more prone to errors. 

Lacking remote work security and overload of (manual) tasks 

But where do all the extra hours and stress come from? Clear winners here are the lack of cybersecurity training among other employees and the lack of tools. Both of these issues became even more critical during the pandemic when most employees were forced to work remotely. 

Working from home and hiring employees from all over the world became more common which caused the traditional ‘castle’ approach to security to fall apart. This approach inherently trusts users who are already within the inner network. So previously, security experts concentrated primarily on protection from outside threats. Now, CISOs need to secure even the inner network and ensure secure remote access across their whole organization. 

That is a big shift for many cybersecurity experts. They need to ensure impenetrable, secure connections for remote work. They need to get all employees to follow appropriate security controls. And they need it all done fast, with the right tools in place. 

This task is just too much for many cybersecurity professionals. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, employees are less likely to follow security regulations and human errors have become more common. In fact, the most common security incidents that CISOs need to deal with are due to human errors. 

Mostly, these threats occur due to a lack of email security, and each incident takes around 9-12 hours of investigating to resolve the issue. It’s estimated that in a company of 1000 employees, around 26000 hours are spent on dealing with incidents caused only by human errors. 

On top of that, your staff still needs to deal with all other cybersecurity threats from the outside. While another huge drawback comes in – administrative tasks. Roughly a third of CISOs feel like they spend too much time on administration. They also lack the tools that would help them automate a lot of these tasks and save time. 

Last but not least on the list - the industry is highly understaffed. 60% of organizations report cybersecurity staff shortage and have a tough time finding the experts they need to cover all their cybersecurity bases. 

Is your CISO ready to quit? 

All this leads to a clear outcome – cybersecurity experts are under tremendous pressure to perform tasks they’re not equipped for, are flooded with work, have close-to-none free time, and they experience burnout on a common basis. Up to 80% report feeling some signs of burnout. 

It’s no wonder that almost half of cybersecurity professionals seriously consider quitting their jobs. Especially when they don’t see an initiative from the employer to solve the issue. 

Automation to the rescue 

So, how can you help your CISO and SecOps staff? 

There actually is an effortless way to save their time and reduce manual tasks while improving your company’s cybersecurity at the same time. 

Incorporating the right tools to automate your staff’s work can be a life-changer here. Think about the top two reasons for cybersecurity incidents – lack of remote work security and administration. 

By implementing a secure access management solution, you can easily reduce the risk of circumventing security regulations and increase your protection against outside threats. With the right tool, all access is secure, identified, verified, tracked, audited, and logged – no matter where your employees are.  

Additionally, the processes related to access granting, changing roles, and demoting privileges can be, for the most part if not completely, automated, which is crucial in modern, dynamic IT environments. There are solutions that synchronize with your Identity and access management (IAM) system and automatically link a user’s identity with the right role and with the right target when access to crucial data, application, system, or infrastructure is made. 

All this sounds great, but you’re probably thinking about the deployment process and that your cybersecurity experts just don’t have the extra time to implement a new tool and train your employees to use it. 

Luckily, there are solutions that simply integrate within your current tools and don’t require architectural redesigning or complex training for your employees. 

Just by providing the right automation tools, you can help your cybersecurity staff to decrease the amounts of extra hours and stress they experience. Your staff can be in top shape, professionally as well as mentally, to manage and mitigate cybersecurity risks and use their skillsets where they are needed the most, instead of managing manual tasks. By doing this, you protect not just your employees but also your company. 

Zero Trust Just-in-Time Access 

If you’re looking for a secure access management solution that: 

  • Radically reduces manual management tasks  
  • Syncs with your IAM and syncs your machine as well as human IDs with the right roles and targets  
  • Verifies, tracks, audits, and logs all sessions 
  • Helps you minimize the number of keys, passwords, and credentials to manage and prepares your IT environment for the passwordless and keyless future 

Check out our Zero Trust Access solutions and secure the most critical information across your whole organization. 

You can also look at our white paper that outlines the path to a future without the pain of password or encryption key rotation or their management. 

PS. A special mention to email security and encryption. We recommend embedding a solution into your existing email client (like Outlook or Gmail) to apply strong end-to-encryption on emails that contain sensitive data - even over the public cloud. No changes to the way you use email, just add '.s' at the end.


Jani Virkkula

Currently employed by SSH.COM as Product Marketing Manager, Jani is a mixed-marketing artist with a strong background in operator and cybersecurity businesses. His career path of translator->-tech writer -> marketer allows him to draw inspiration from different sources and gives him a unique perspective on all types...

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