How to Tell if Your Company is Suffering from Security Alert Fatigue

We’ve been talking about security alert fatigue a lot here at Capsule8 because it is a very real concern we hear from prospects, customers, and other organizations that are trying secure their production environment. The numbers of the SOC can be terrifying for anyone who is in charge of making sure that next breach doesn’t happen to them. A stat we often cite is that in a survey of IT security professionals, 37 percent of respondents faced more than 10,000 alerts on a daily basis. More than half of those alerts are false positives, and the average organization can’t even get to or adequately investigate a quarter of the alerts it receives.

Causes and Symptoms of Security Alert Fatigue

Even if your alerts aren’t in the tens of thousands, chances are your team is overloaded. The causes for security alert fatigue extend beyond just numbers. False positives, for example, can be quite frustrating for teams who spend hours cycling through alerts while potentially real threats go unchecked or stay buried until someone can get to them. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on teams to find that needle in the haystack, only the haystack gets bigger every day.

Alert redundancy can be another issue. Imagine going through a huge set of alerts, and then having to go through them again? It’s like déjà vu when identical alerts fire, but even if you know it’s the same, each one needs to be checked individually. Alert redundancy can feel like you’re stuck in a seemingly Sisyphus-ian cycle of clearing alerts and then clearing the same ones all over again.

And speaking of clearing alerts, is the right person even receiving the right alerts? Are issues tackled or escalated appropriately? Probably not. Delivery problems can be another big cause of alert fatigue, so you have to make sure the alerts go to the people who can actually take action upon them.

Even if your alert volume is low, there is a very real chance your team is suffering from alert fatigue. There are a few ways you can tell besides just measuring how many alerts are being checked off per day.

Staff turnover can be a sure sign your SOC is overloaded. Security alert fatigue can lead to a very quick burnout and overall dissatisfaction with your company and your team. No one wants to feel like they are constantly behind or losing sleep over missing the next breach. It can’t be very rewarding to feel like your efforts, no matter how great, aren’t making a difference.

A stagnant, or even lowered, security posture can be another sign your team is suffering from alert fatigue. If response times are increasing, your team could be overloaded and efficiency starts to decline. Similarly, if meaningful alerts are being missed, there’s clearly an issue with how alerts are being processed. Or they may have been ignored, another common symptom of alert fatigue that can increase your chances of an attack.

How to End Security Alert Fatigue

Regardless of how elevated your alert fatigue risk is, there are certain changes you can make to help lower or prevent the impact on your team.

One way to tackle security alert fatigue is instituting standardized, automated processes to help identify, and potentially respond to, a security alert appropriately.

Additionally, if you can manage detection at the machine-level, the problem of data overload and false alerts largely disappears, providing greater visibility into what’s happening on the file system, in memory, in the OS, and in the application. By adopting a machine-level, automated approach to monitoring and detection, your security analysts can spend their valuable time focusing on what really matters – critical threat analysis and real-time response.

This automated detection and response becomes increasingly more important as we march toward the SOC-less enterprise. It’s a more proactive approach to security so time and resources aren’t wasted by false alerts and ensuring the following response is the right one. This approach will help to cut down on wasting countless hours investigating false alarms and automate responses to stop real attacks faster before any damage occurs.

Read our article to learn more about the state of the SOC and how to fix security alert fatigue with a new approach for better security.

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