What Is Cybersecurity Fatigue and How Can You Prevent It?

March 24, 2023 • Devin Partida


Cybersecurity fatigue occurs when people get so tired of following procedures to prevent cyberattacks that they become disengaged and are often more likely to participate in risky behaviors as a result. People’s frustration typically  stems from having to do certain things, like log into multiple sites during a usual workday. Here’s a closer look at cybersecurity fatigue and, more importantly, how you can tackle the problem. 

Cybersecurity Fatigue May Come From Perceived Powerlessness

People experience cybersecurity fatigue when they believe nothing they do makes any difference in preventing attacks. They may reach that conclusion by hearing about huge data breaches and other cybersecurity events and feeling discouraged by how often they happen. 

Relatedly, some people adopt a sense of carelessness once they receive confirmation that a major data breach affected them. They figure there’s little reason to keep trying to protect their data if hackers already have it. 

Productivity Prioritized Over Internet Safety

People can also show signs of cybersecurity fatigue if the rules they must follow make it more difficult to get things done on time. Consider, for example, how it’s good password hygiene to create unique and difficult-to-guess passwords for each site you visit. However, following that practice can be frustrating if it stops you from working efficiently. 

A study from 1Password found that 44% of employees said logging in and out of sites at work reduced their productivity and negatively impacted their moods. Another surprising takeaway was that 26% of employees left work projects unfinished if it meant they could avoid logging in somewhere. 

Even Security Pros Get Cybersecurity Fatigue

It may surprise you to learn that even the people who enforce cybersecurity practices get frustrated. However, their fatigue most commonly arises from getting too many associated alerts at work. 

A 2021 Trend Micro study of internet security decision-makers indicated 51% thought their teams were overwhelmed by alert volumes while at work. Additionally, 55% lacked confidence that teams could prioritize and respond to those notifications. 

Cybersecurity Fatigue Prevention Tips

There’s no single solution for all cybersecurity fatigue problems. However, these suggestions will get you off to a good start in dealing with the issue. 

Get Feedback About the Specific Problems

Solving cybersecurity fatigue problems starts by understanding what makes people frustrated. What challenges do they experience that make them circumvent or ignore cybersecurity procedures? 

Once you know those details, targeting the issues is much easier. For example, if people complain about password requirements, consider allowing them to use password managers. When individuals feel supervisors listen to their concerns, they’ll be more likely to feel more motivated about following cybersecurity rules.

Treat Cybersecurity as Everyone’s Responsibility

It’s important to discuss cybersecurity by emphasizing how it’s part of everyone’s job. That goes for the people working at the front desk of a doctor’s office to those packing goods in an e-commerce warehouse. Discuss how even seemingly small decisions can affect cybersecurity for better or worse. 

Spend time giving everyone the knowledge they need to act appropriately, too. That might mean teaching them how to spot the telltale signs of phishing emails. It could also involve creating a feedback system that people can use to report potential online threats within an organization. The goal is to break down barriers that can cause individuals to believe staying safe online is overly complicated and not their duty. 

Consider Letting Artificial Intelligence Help

Many organizations use artificial intelligence (AI) to cope with cybersecurity-related alert fatigue. It’s particularly helpful to companies with small or overworked IT teams. Most solutions can triage incoming issues, helping people decide which ones to tackle first. 

Research also indicated AI excelled at detecting highly critical issues and almost never had false positives. Implementing a new technology into the workflow takes time and other resources. But, if alert fatigue is a major issue for the IT department, pursuing the solution could be worthwhile. 

No One Is Immune to Cybersecurity Fatigue

A final important takeaway is that cybersecurity fatigue can happen to anyone. Even people who are well aware of how important internet security practices are can eventually get fed up and wonder if their actions are pointless. 

When that happens, it’s a great time to investigate the root cause. Then, people will have the knowledge they need to make the appropriate improvements.