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Stress is a constant for cyber security chiefs, finds survey

Nominet research reveals how far beleaguered CISOs are now under cosh 24/7 from inside and outside of their organisations.

Chief Information Security Officers – CISOs – surveyed by Nominet cope with high levels of stress that are causing nearly 20% of those polled to turn to medication or alcohol to deal with job pressures.

The survey of 408 CISCOs in the UK and US found 91% report that they suffer ‘moderate’ or ‘high stress’, with 60% saying that they ‘rarely disconnect from their job.’

Life Inside the Perimeter: Understanding the Modern CISO found that top techies are also working long hours: 88% of CISOs reckon that they are working more than 40 hours a week, while 22% say that they are also on-call 24/7.

Their punishing workloads are causing a physical response to their problems: 26.5% of those questioned say that stress is ‘impacting their mental or physical health’, while 23% say the job is ‘eroding their personal relationships’. Moreover, 17% of CISOs admitted to turning to medication or alcohol to cope with job stress.

This lack of engagement is with executive teams is another concern, as only 60% of CISOs polled believe that their CEO and/or President agrees that a cyber breach ‘is inevitable’. Coupled with the fact that 32% of all those questioned believe that, in the event of a security breach they would either ‘lose their job or receive an official warning’, and it adds significant individual pressure from within the business.

This is worse in the UK, the study found, as 37% of CISOs believe that they ‘would receive a warning or be fired’, compared with 28% in the US.

“It’s no surprise that CISOs face burn-out,” says Russell Haworth, CEO at Nominet. “Many lack support from within their organisations, and senior business leaders need to face the facts: the threats are real, and CISOs need to be given the resources and support to tackle them. If not, c-suites and boards must face the consequences.”

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