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2024 Press Releases

February 07, 2024

Sophos Report: Burnout Affects 88% of Singaporean and 91% of Malaysian Cybersecurity Professionals

Sophos, a global leader in innovating and delivering cybersecurity as a service, released the findings of its fourth “The Future of Cybersecurity in Asia Pacific and Japan” report in collaboration with Tech Research Asia (TRA). The report found that more than 85 per cent of respondents from both Malaysia and Singapore in cybersecurity and IT roles are impacted by burnout and fatigue.

Malaysia
In Malaysia, the study revealed that burnout is felt across almost all aspects of cybersecurity operations, with 90% of respondents saying that feelings of burnout had increased in the last 12 months and 55% saying that this burnout makes them “less diligent” in their cybersecurity roles; 21% of respondents identified that cybersecurity burnout or fatigue contributed to, or was directly responsible for, a cybersecurity breach and 22% of companies experienced slower than average response times to cybersecurity incidents.

Causes of cybersecurity burnout and fatigue
The five main causes of cyber burnout and fatigue in Malaysia include:

  1. A lack of resources available to support cybersecurity activities.

  2. An increased level of pressure from the board and/or executive management.

  3. Persistent alert overload from tools and systems. 

  4. The routine aspects of the role, which create a feeling of monotony.

  5. Increase in threat activity and the adoption of new technologies that foster a more challenging, always-on environment.

The impact of burnout and fatigue on cybersecurity employees
The study revealed that across Malaysia:

  • 55% felt they were not diligent enough in their performance.

  • 39% felt heightened levels of anxiety if subject to a breach or attack.

  • 31% experienced feelings of cynicism, detachment and apathy towards cybersecurity activities and their responsibilities.

  • 25% of resignations were a result of stress and burnout.

The impact of cybersecurity burnout and fatigue on business operations
There were four key areas where cyber burnout and fatigue had a direct impact on business operations in Malaysia:

  • Direct contribution to breaches: 21% of respondents identified that cybersecurity burnout or fatigue contributed to, or was directly responsible for, a cybersecurity breach.

  • Slower response times to cybersecurity incidents: 22% of companies experienced slower than average response times to cybersecurity incidents.

  • Lost productivity: Malaysian businesses are experiencing a productivity loss of 4.1 hours per week amongst cybersecurity and IT professionals, with companies in the Philippines (4.6 hours/week) and Singapore (4.2 hours/week) having the worst impact, while India and Japan (both 3.6 hours/week) were the least affected.

  • Resignations and employees moving on: Stress and burnout were directly attributed as a cause of cybersecurity and IT professional resignations in 32% of companies, with Malaysia experiencing this at a rate of 28%.

Singapore
The study revealed that burnout is felt across almost all aspects of cybersecurity operations, with 82% of Singapore respondents saying that feelings of burnout increased in the last 12 months with 32% saying that this burnout makes them “less diligent” in their cybersecurity roles; 23% of respondents identified that cybersecurity burnout or fatigue contributed to, or was directly responsible for, a cybersecurity breach and 20% of companies experienced slower than average response times to cybersecurity incidents.

Causes of cybersecurity burnout and fatigue
The five main causes of cyber burnout and fatigue in the report include:

  1. A lack of resources available to support cybersecurity activities.

  2. The routine aspects of the role, which create a feeling of monotony.

  3. An increased level of pressure from the board and/or executive management.

  4. Persistent alert overload from tools and systems.

  5. Increase in threat activity and the adoption of new technologies that foster a more challenging, always-on environment.

The impact of burnout and fatigue on cybersecurity employees
The study revealed that in Singapore:

  • 32% felt they were not diligent enough in their performance.

  • 36% felt heightened levels of anxiety if subject to a breach or attack.

  • 40% experienced feelings of cynicism, detachment and apathy towards cybersecurity activities and their responsibilities.

  • 38% of resignations were a result of stress and burnout.

The impact of cybersecurity burnout and fatigue on business operations
There were four key areas where cyber burnout and fatigue had a direct impact on business operations in Singapore:

  • Direct contribution to breaches: 23% of respondents identified that cybersecurity burnout or fatigue contributed to, or was directly responsible for, a cybersecurity breach.

  • Slower response times to cybersecurity incidents: 20% of companies experienced slower than average response times to cybersecurity incidents.

  • Lost productivity: Businesses in Singapore are experiencing a productivity loss of 4.2 hours per week amongst cybersecurity and IT professionals, with companies in the Philippines (4.6 hours/week) and Malaysia (4.1 hours/week) having the worst impact, while India and Japan (both 3.6 hours/week) were the least affected.

  • Resignations and employees moving on: Stress and burnout were directly attributed as a cause of cybersecurity and IT professional resignations in 41% of companies in Singapore. Organisations also noted that, on average, 20% of them had “moved on” a cybersecurity or IT employee as a result of the individual being impacted by stress or burnout. Singapore (26% of companies) had the highest incidence of this practice followed by Malaysia (23%).

“At a time when organisations are struggling with cybersecurity skills shortages and an increasingly complex cyberattack environment, employee stability and performance are critical for providing a solid defence for the business. Burnout and fatigue are undermining these areas and organisations need to step up to provide the right support to employees especially when, according to our research, 21 per cent of Malaysian respondents identified that cybersecurity burnout or fatigue contributed to, or was directly responsible for, a cybersecurity breach,” said Aaron Bugal, Field CTO at Sophos.

“This Sophos and TRA report provides timely insight into organisational cyber stress and demonstrates that things need to change. Although there's not a simple fix, an attitude adjustment would go a long way to define the right expectations around what it means to evolve into a cyber-resilient business. Boards and executive committees need to drive change and demand responsibility from their deputised charges, in essence for better governance around cyber approaches. However, they need to clearly articulate their accountability in developing and maintaining a plan because cybersecurity is now a perpetually interactive sport – and there needs to be a team that provides adequate coverage around the clock.”