Security monitoring fatigue puts organizations at risk

How data overload is pushing security professionals to the brink

When alerts turn burdensome

Security professionals — often the first line of defense for an organization — are getting burned out. The reason? Often, data overload.

Sifting through a high volume of alerts (some of which are duplicated across tools) makes it difficult to understand how to identify and mitigate the most critical and pressing threats to the organization. Despite the good intentions of security alerts, a recent study found that 68% of security professionals admitted to reducing the alert volume of specific alerting features, while 49% turned off high-volume alerts altogether.

When these security protocols are loosened, they reduce the burden of investigating every alert — but simultaneously widen security gaps and increase the possibility of being compromised. This can have disastrous consequences; a missed alert may lead to a data breach, drive up the cost of attack remediation, or open the door to further attacks.

As IBM notes in their 2021 Cost of a Data Breach report, it already takes approximately 212 days to identify a breach and another 75 days to contain it — a number that is only likely to increase unless addressed.

Why security is getting burned out

There are two crucial reasons why security professionals are facing fatigue. First, many organizations have migrated — either partially or fully — to cloud computing. This hybrid infrastructure can be complex to configure, manage, and secure against a number of growing threats. And not all security products work for both on-premise and cloud environments, forcing organizations to adopt additional solutions to secure their users and data.

Second, as organizations continue to add security products to their stack, these solutions collect a higher volume of monitoring data. This data is essential to understanding what threats the organization is facing and mitigate them, but may present an overwhelming amount of data to parse.

This alert monitoring fatigue is then complicated by several other factors:

  • False positives: In a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, respondents noted a 20-50% false-positive rate, which prevents security from gaining an accurate picture of the threats facing their organization.

  • Security tools may be siloed or send duplicative alerts: Point products don’t work together to streamline the volume and quality of data being sent, which can make it more difficult to assess an organization’s security posture and analyze threats as they arise. Traditional security monitoring tools — whether they operate at the host, system, application, or network level — are often over-reliant on manual processes to track down and resolve incidents, while many cloud security tools are not built for the scale or complexity of hybrid environments.

  • Data logs lack context and advanced capabilities: Since logs are often siloed in hardware and software, they cannot offer context that takes into account an organization’s entire infrastructure. Identifying and remediating an attack can be both time-consuming and challenging to sift through the high volume of technical data.

  • When everything is important, nothing is: With the wrong toolset, every event is prioritized, making it burdensome for security to manually identify the most pressing threat. The right toolset is one that allows security to automatically prioritize the data they receive, enabling them to identify attack patterns and the evolution of other security risks within their organizations — without wasting valuable time or resources.

When security becomes too fatigued to keep up with alerts, parse log data, and manage monitoring tools, the risks to the organization become greater.

Reducing security monitoring fatigue

Combating security monitoring fatigue requires more than adopting the “perfect” security tool — instead, it requires a reconsideration of network security.

Rather than juggling point solutions (which are not designed to integrate, de-duplicate alerts, or offer comprehensive visibility), a single control plane would enable security to easily manage their security and monitoring tools. By managing threat detection and mitigation capabilities in the same place, organizations can close security gaps and gain more visibility and control.

There is further opportunity to improve threat detection capabilities by:

  • Improving logs and machine learning models: Logging is most useful when security has a clear and concise picture of the threats to their organization. Teams may augment the log data by implementing one or more of the following features:

    • AI-driven event and root cause analysis: Noting what happens before, during, and after an incident

    • Predictive analysis: Identifying weak areas of infrastructure that should be addressed prior to an incident occurring

    • Network detection and response: Eliminating silos between DevOps, microservices, and API-based integrations to get a full picture of the data security lifecycle

    • Behavior baselining: Cataloging expected and unexpected actions and behaviors

  • Making better use of automation: Some parts of the threat detection process will require manual input. But, automating processes where possible — ideally tactical, repeatable steps of investigation and analysis — can reduce the overall workload security faces in detecting threats. For example, establishing an automated workflow for scanning endpoint devices or email accounts is faster than setting up the scan from scratch every time.

  • Cadenced auditing of security tools: Regularly audit and streamline existing security monitoring tools to ensure they are working as expected.

Instead of lowering the security threshold, organizations can reduce network complexity by consolidating security onto a single platform. In so doing, they will strengthen their security posture, eliminate security gaps, and provide a more supportive environment for security professionals to focus on critical threats.

Eliminate security monitoring fatigue with Cloudflare

Consolidate essential security services and deploy them from the network edge with Cloudflare One, a Zero Trust network-as-a-service platform. Cloudflare’s single dashboard enables security to stay on top of emerging threats with visualized analytics, detailed logs, and tailored notifications, all of which can be easily configured and managed.

Built on a vast global network that harnesses the intelligence of millions of properties to better identify and mitigate threats, organizations benefit from natively integrated security that improves as Cloudflare’s network scales.

This article is part of a series on the latest trends and topics impacting today’s technology decision-makers.


Key takeaways

After reading this article you will be able to understand:

  • Why 68% of security professionals are reducing security alerts

  • How security point products feed into data overload and burnout

  • Recommendations to reduce security monitoring fatigue

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Deduplicating alerts and monitoring are an important aspect of Zero Trust security. To understand how they fit into broader Zero Trust transformation — get the Roadmap to Zero Trust Security.

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