Cybersecurity expert: most stressfull job within IT?

Without a doubt, the answer is 'yes'. Cybersecurity can be a very stressful job. Cybersecurity professionals don't just need to stay on top of threats from cybercriminals, ransomware gangs, and even state-sponsored hacking. They also need to make sure their users are equipped with the right tools to stay safe.

Research shows that 45% of cybersecurity experts have considered leaving the sector. They feel exhausted and emphasize that stress is starting to take its toll.

According to research from VMware, 47% of cybersecurity incident respondents said they had experienced burnout or extreme stress in the past 12 months.

Next to this there was an unexpectedly slight increase in the percentage of people who said cybersecurity stress at work prompted them to quit. Of this group, 69% said stress and burnout made them reconsider their job, compared to 65% in 2021.

Add to that the challenge of managing security breaches, especially when significant new "zero-day" vulnerabilities emerge and are exploited by hackers. According to the VMware survey, 62% of respondents have encountered them in the past 12 months.

The number of cyber-attacks has also increased since Russia invaded Ukraine, something cybersecurity agencies warned about at the start of the war. All of this comes at a time when many cybersecurity teams are still transitioning to hybrid work, from which many will no doubt benefit. But it also brings additional cybersecurity challenges that criminals will try to exploit.

If this pressure forces cybersecurity personnel to leave their jobs, it could negatively impact everyone, as fewer cybersecurity personnel make it easier for cybercriminals to break into networks and go undetected.

6 most common reasons for stress within Cybersecurity

1. Lack of resources
More than half of the cybersecurity experts surveyed believe they lack the resources to address security vulnerabilities.

2. Overwhelming workload
73% say that an ever-increasing workload causes burnout. 65% have considered a job change because frustration with the workload is exacerbated by poor eyesight or fatigue

3. Attendance Requirements
71% of cybersecurity experts report being on call 24/7, 365 days a week. That is a clear cause for a burnout.

4. Working Hours
88% of cybersecurity experts admit to working more than 40 hours a week. It has been proven that employees who work long hours are less attentive at work, which can lead to more stress for the IT person.

5. Mental health risks
Research has proven that security positions contribute measurably to fatigue, frustration and other psychological problems. The effect of stress at work can be particularly debilitating when accompanied by mental health problems.

6. Race, Gender and Background
Women, non-native speakers, people without traditional professional qualifications,… are more likely to experience stress at work, especially if they are faced with discrimination or prejudice at work.

Flexible workinghours, the solution?

It goes without saying that we don't want to see cybersecurity experts disappear. Available IT talent is hard to find and this will not improve in the coming years.

To avoid burnout and stress, 72% of respondents said flexible working hours would be a big help. Any effort to find solutions to stress must start with the employee's perspective. For example, there are factors that can help, including additional training, treatments and guidance at the initiative of the company. In its research, VMware concluded that the latter element will be badly needed to retain this security talent within the organization in the long term.