The impact of employee burnout on cyber security

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Employee burnout is a serious issue that can have a significant impact on a company’s cyber security. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress, and it can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and even mental and physical health problems. In the context of cyber security, burnout can have serious consequences, including decreased vigilance, increased errors, and even security breaches. 


One of the most significant ways in which employee burnout can affect cyber security is through decreased vigilance. Burnout can lead to feelings of apathy and a lack of motivation, which can make employees less likely to pay attention to important details or report suspicious activity. For example, an employee who is suffering from burnout may overlook a phishing email or fail to report a potential security incident. This can put the entire organisation at risk, as even one missed security threat can lead to a significant data breach. 

In a cyber security role, employees are expected to be vigilant at all times. They are responsible for identifying and mitigating potential threats and must remain vigilant to new and emerging threats. When an employee is suffering from burnout, it can make it difficult for them to focus and pay attention, which can lead to security incidents being overlooked. This can have serious consequences, as a single missed threat can lead to a major data breach, resulting in significant financial losses and damage to an organisation’s reputation. 

Increased Errors

Another way in which burnout can affect cyber security is through increased errors. Burnout can lead to cognitive impairment, which can make it harder for employees to focus and think clearly. This can result in employees making mistakes that could compromise the organisation’s security. For example, an employee who is burned out may inadvertently download malware onto their computer, which can then spread throughout the network. 

Employees in a cyber security role are also responsible for maintaining the security of an organisation’s network and systems. This includes tasks such as patching vulnerabilities, configuring security software, and monitoring the network for suspicious activity. When an employee is suffering from burnout, it can make it more difficult for them to complete these tasks accurately, which can result in security vulnerabilities not being patched, or in security software not being configured correctly. This can leave the organisation vulnerable to attacks, which can result in data breaches and other security incidents.


Burnout can also lead to security breaches by causing employees to ignore their responsibilities. When employees are suffering from burnout, they may neglect to follow security protocols or to update their security software. This can leave the organisation vulnerable to attacks, as hackers can exploit unpatched vulnerabilities or take advantage of employees who are not following security best practices. This can also contribute to security incidents, like data breaches which can have serious consequences for an organisation. 

How to mitigate  

To mitigate the effects of employee burnout on cyber security, organisations should take steps to prevent burnout from occurring in the first place. One way to do this is to create a culture of work-life balance, where employees are encouraged to take breaks and practice self-care. This can include offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, which can help employees to better manage their workload and reduce stress. Meditation can also be a really useful tool when it comes to managing stress, it can even improve focus and work performance. Additionally, organisations should provide resources and support for employees to help them cope with stress, such as counselling services, employee assistance programs, and stress management training.


It is also important for organisations to provide regular training and education on cyber security, to ensure that employees are aware of the latest threats and how to protect against them. This can include training on topics such as phishing and social engineering, as well as hands-on training on security software and tools. 

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Security awareness training can be one of the most useful tools to mitigate the human factor that is involved in so many incidents and breaches. When an organisation’s employees are up to date with the current threat landscape and know cyber security best practices, the threat level can be seriously reduced. Our partners, KnowBe4 offer the latest in security training for organisations, if you would like to learn more, visit our partner page here.


In conclusion, making sure that employees within an organisation are happy, well rested, and trained properly has never been more important. Not only is it just the right thing to do, it could prevent cyber attacks from ever taking place.

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Central Response Team Manager

Kieron has been with SEP2 since 2019 and works in our support team.

For Kieron, there is no typical day at SEP2, for one day he can be working through open tickets, another day you could be working on a priority case for the duration of the day, and another day you could be working on an ongoing project, but what Kieron enjoys is that the mix of challenges keeps the role fresh and interesting.

Kieron likes that within the support team everybody works well together, and shares knowledge between every level and are constantly being encouraged to learn.

In his spare time, Kieron’s current favourite hobby is working on his allotment, which gives him a nice change of scenery and a break from technology.