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How to Alleviate Alert Fatigue When Enterprise Security Needs Keep Growing

Cybersecurity leaders prioritize security event management efficiency now more than ever.

Security analysts receive messages and alerts all day long. It’s a core part of the job. 

Every time security software encounters suspicious log activity, it generates an alert. It’s up to analysts to piece together different alerts coming from every corner of the organization and build a narrative that explains those incidents. 

The surface area and technological complexity of the average enterprise has grown significantly in the past few years. The number of security events logged in a single day has grown even faster, putting serious strain on security operations center (SOC) personnel.  

A single SOC analyst in an enterprise environment might receive 20,000 alerts per week.  Of these, more than half might require immediate action. Under these conditions, it’s all too easy for analysts to become desensitized to new alerts. They can’t possibly address them all in time, so a backlog becomes inevitable.

This leads to alert fatigue, which can compromise even the most advanced security capabilities.

 

How to Identify the Signs of Alert Fatigue

Alert fatigue has wide-ranging impacts on every aspect of your enterprise security posture. However, many of these impacts are not easily measurable. IT leaders need to look for indicators of alert fatigue setting in.  

Many of these are qualitative in nature. Consider conducting interviews and asking your security analysts some of the following questions:

 

  • Do you often have to ignore security alerts simply because the volume of alerts is too high? 
  • In your opinion, do you spend too much time responding to non-critical alerts? 
  • Does responding to alerts often get in the way of other critical security tasks? 
  • Do you often check work you’ve already done because you fear you might have “missed something?” 
  • Does it feel like one way or another, you will probably miss something important?

 

If the answer to these questions is yes, there’s a good chance that alert fatigue is setting in.  

If left unchecked, it can develop into employee burnout. This kind of work-related stress deeply impacts the confidence, productivity, and capability of otherwise reliable team members. 

Psychologically, alert fatigue can provoke a cynical, fatalistic view of security analysis work. It can lead analysts to conclude that security breaches are “inevitable”. This attitude establishes a vicious cycle – more missed alerts, more fatigue, and more errors. Ultimately, security breaches become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

This also impacts employee turnover and recruiting. Burned-out security analysts are much more likely to seek employment elsewhere, leaving you with a constant skills gap and ongoing recruiting expenses.

 

Use a Two-Pronged Approach to Address Alert Fatigue

Alert fatigue is made up of a technological element and a human element. Keeping your security team operating at peak capacity requires addressing both: 

1. Automate and Prioritize Alerts with SIEM Technologies 

Without a security information and event management (SIEM) system in place, there is no way to efficiently tag, categorize, and distribute alerts to your team. Redundancies are common, and individual analysts might miss important data. SIEM platforms allow enterprises to automate the process of organizing alerts and making sure the most important ones are addressed first. 

Advanced SIEM software can take this one step further. By integrating tools like Exabeam UEBA technology, you can configure alerts to trigger only once certain behavioral thresholds are met. Instead of sending an alert for every suspicious action a user takes, your analysts immediately see how that user’s actions deviate from their account’s established baseline. 

Palo Alto Cortex XDR can help you protect endpoints against sophisticated attacks while reducing alert fatigue. Extended detection and response capabilities break down data silos and provide analysts with alert data that is accurate and actionable. When paired with Anomali Threat Intelligence, analysts can take decisive actions to address threats in real-time.

 

2. Expand Your Security Operations with Managed Security Services  

Having the best technology isn’t enough. It takes a reliable team of highly qualified analysts to turn security alerts into actionable insights. Advanced security tools can significantly reduce the number of frivolous alerts and false positives your team encounters, but growing organizations still need scalable access to security talent. 

You can’t always respond to enterprise growth by simply hiring new analysts. Outsourcing your highest volume tasks to a reputable managed security service vendor gives you the ability to scale security resources according to your needs. This frees your own security personnel to spend less time responding to alerts and more time working on high-impact strategic initiatives. 

Castra’s managed security team uses cutting-edge technology in a state-of-the-art security operations center. Let our team automate and manage alerts for your enterprise so that your information security team is free to do what it does best.

 

Castra’s SOC extends your team’s capabilities so that your organization is protected against new and evolving threats. Learn more about working with our team!