Security Market Segment LS
Thursday, 21 October 2021 11:45

Trend Micro: SOC workers are suffering burn-out Featured

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A world-wide survey of over 2300 security decision-makers has found workers are over-worked and stressed.

According to a recent report from Trend Micro, a Security Operations Centre (SOC) "offers a centralised, always-on hub for monitoring, detecting and responding to cyber-threats. In theory, it should be an effective way to manage the growing risks associated with threat activity. In reality, many teams are struggling to provide the support CISOs expect of them, and are suffering as a result not just at work, but also in their private lives."

To find out more, Trend Micro commissioned a new global study, based on interviews with 2,303 IT security decision makers in 21 countries. This includes leaders who run SOC teams (85%) and those who manage SecOps from within their IT security team (15%). All respondents came from 250+ employee companies, with the exceptions of Norway (10+), Denmark (25+), Austria and Belgium (both 100+).

Clearly, this data will be more accurate than the typical "please complete my on-line survey and try to be honest about who you are and what your thoughts are… oh and there's a $100 voucher in it for you."

The report paints a very gloomy picture for life in the SOC.

Over half of respondents admitted that they're not confident in their ability to prioritise or respond to alert, spending on average 27% of their time dealing with false positives. The number of alerts flooding the SecOps team is so great that large numbers of respondents have said that they've frequently or occasionally:

  • Ignored alerts completely and worked on something else (40%)
  • Walked away from the computer feeling overwhelmed (43%)
  • Turned off alerts (43%)
  • Just assumed an alert was a false positive (49%)
  • Hoped another team member would step in to help (50%)

Further, many respondents claimed that they:

  • Are unable to relax due to stress
  • Find their downtime ruined by their inability to switch off
  • Are irritable with friends and family

Just 28% of SOC teams said they are able to fully switch off and forget about work after clocking off.

Working in a SOC is obviously a high-pressure job. The report also notes that, "Unlike the day-to-day roles of most employees, security professionals engaged in threat detection and response have hanging over them the continuous concern that if they fail, the organization could suffer serious financial and reputational damage. Respondents estimated an average cost per GDPR breach at $235,000, but in reality it could be much higher."

Unfortunately, the report offered no cures.


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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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