3 Strategies for Overcoming Security Burnout

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By Eric Sheridan

As the pace of global cybercrime continues to grow, the demand is outpacing the supply of security professionals who can help combat the ever-increasing threats. In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures estimated the total of unfilled security jobs is expected to reach 3.5 million by 2021.

With the problematic shortage in security, organizations are consistently operating understaffed, and team members do not have time to train for advanced skills like security analytics. This forces more experienced team members to pick up the slack, adding to job fatigue and stress. In addition, many companies are forced to put added pressure on security and developer teams who, in turn, suffer job fatigue and stress by working longer hours for their growing workloads.

Since many developers and security professionals desire to have a real impact on the world and consequently become emotionally invested in their jobs, this can add to stress levels. As a result, burnout is a real phenomenon in security and software development.

It’s essential to have a conversation about how security and software development professionals can combat this dilemma and achieve a work-life balance through a variety of strategies.

Here are three strategies to help achieve a work-life balance:

1. Food, Exercise, Rest and New Hobbies

Carve out times in the day to nourish the body, as well as the brain, with exercise, enough sleep and a healthy diet. It’s unrealistic to be productive throughout the day without dedicating time to resting and eating well.

Exercise helps lower blood pressure, which can be an indicator of high stress, according to the American Council on Exercise. In addition, exercise releases serotonin and dopamine, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, which can aid professionals in lowering stress levels.

Image Source:    Ace Fitness

Image Source: Ace Fitness

Spending all day coding and then going home and coding for personal enjoyment can turn into burnout quickly. For many professionals, spending less time coding recreationally — and instead focusing on new hobbies that can encourage creativity — can have a positive impact.

2. Collaborate and Delegate

It’s easy to get burnt out when you are acting as the sole point of contact on a project. Teams are there for a reason, so collaborate and delegate items among other team members whenever possible.

To collaborate further, integrate security throughout the DevOps movement with DevSecOps, which was designed to build communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and IT operations teams. By uncovering and remediating vulnerabilities, professionals can solve problems before they arise, minimizing the extra burden of security.

3. Education and Certifications

If the goal is to rid applications of potential vulnerabilities before they are released, then training has a major role to play in that equation. Many developers have not received education in spotting what secure code looks like, and many more aren’t fully aware of the more than 1,000 categories of security mistakes that developers can make.

Since many security teams operate understaffed, it is difficult to find the time for further education in order to empower teams to incorporate security within the DevOps approach. Fortunately, there are many resources available to gain certifications. There are many programs available on the market.

These are just a few strategies that security and software development professionals can keep in mind. How do you work to alleviate stress in your professional life?

About Eric Sheridan

As the Chief Scientist of the Static Code Analysis division at WhiteHat Security, Eric Sheridan oversees all research and development for Sentinel Source and related products, defining and driving the underlying technology. Eric also leads the WhiteHat Certified Secure Developer (WCSD) program, a free training program designed to educate and certify developers on secure coding and application security best practices.

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