As cyberattacks become increasingly common and destructive, employees have a critical role to play in keeping the company safe. But while the prevalence of cyberattacks should make employees more aware of the threat landscape and better prepared to identify attacks in progress, the relentless emphasis on cybersecurity often leads to security fatigue instead.
“Security fatigue” refers to weariness that arises from what employees perceive as excessive cybersecurity measures. When security fatigue takes hold at a company, it can harm morale, cause negligent behavior, and make cyberattacks more likely. From constant password reset prompts to multi-factor authentication to monotonous forms of cybersecurity training that fail to engage learners, there are plenty of reasons employees are feeling exhausted and frustrated. But the consequences of security fatigue can be dire.
However, companies have a wide range of tools to alleviate security fatigue: they can provide cybersecurity awareness training that seizes employees’ attention, offer tools like password managers and VPNs, and reward employees for reporting cybersecurity incidents or performing well on assessments like phishing tests. Our colleague Matt Lindley, CISO & COO of NINJIO, outlines how companies can deploy these strategies to eliminate security fatigue and get their employees to make cybersecurity a top priority using the HEAR strategy:
- Help employees understand the “why.” When your colleagues don’t see the point in taking cybersecurity measures, they’ll view the time and effort as a waste rather than an important investment in safety. This will lead them to neglect or evade protocols instead of following them. Helping everyone understand why cybersecurity measures are what they are is the first step to getting people on the same page.
- Engage employees with relevant cyber-awareness training. A major cause of security fatigue is outdated and boring educational content that wastes employees’ time and doesn’t help them retain what they learn. When companies offer entertaining content which focuses on real-world cyberattacks, they won’t just ensure that employees are actually paying attention – they’ll also satisfy the demand for professional development.
- Automate cybersecurity processes with the right digital resources. Although stolen credentials are often used in successful breaches, only around 20 percent of Americans say they use password managers. When companies give their employees tools like password managers, they won’t just prevent cyberattacks – they’ll also cut down on security fatigue by making employees’ lives easier.
- Reward and facilitate a culture of cybersecurity. High-quality cyber-awareness training, effective incident reporting channels, and rewards for proactive employees can all contribute to sustainable cultural change at your company.
The long-term solution to security fatigue is the creation and maintenance of a company culture that embraces cybersecurity. When employees understand the harm cyberattacks can cause – as well as their power to stop these attacks – your cybersecurity platform will be reenergized.