Mastering the Art of Security and Mental Health in an Ideal World

The powerful release of letting go

Cybersecurity has become a main focus for organisations since COVID-19. Even though it’s always been critical to have a robust up-to-date security system, businesses have been overwhelmed by the rising number of cyber threats. This has created enormous pressure for security leaders to stay ahead of cyber attacks with limited resources.

In 2019, Osterman Research conducted a survey to find out how security leaders were coping with the growing trend of cyber threats. It concluded that 91% of CISOs suffered from high-stress levels, leading 17% of those to either medicate or turn to alcohol to deal with the pressure that came along with the job. Not a great way to deal with mental health. And 60% of professionals said they rarely disconnect from their roles as they carry the burden of being seen as scapegoats if there’s a breach, preventing them from switching off from their work life.  

During COVID-19, 81% of global enterprises reported experiencing cyber threats, which led to staff shortages of 38% due to burnout. However, in the last year, the number has increased to 50% as security professionals have considered resigning. Professionals in this industry have decided to quit because they are underpaid, work extra hours, don’t have access to basic tools, and have difficult relationships with colleagues who see them as a ‘less of a priority’ department. Sound familiar?  

Now, I am not telling you to just ‘accept, let go, or move on,’ nor to be less concerned about the issues. In my opinion, there are easy wins if we change certain habits regarding security and mental health. As Buddhism teaches you “When you can’t control what is happening, try to control the way you react to what is happening.” Sometimes we can’t control what happens, but we can control how we approach the situation and how we react. So, here are some tips to help you reduce the risk of cyber-attacks whilst focusing on your mental health. 

Tips to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and a mental breakdown:

According to IBM’s 2023 report, the average cost of a data breach is $4.45 million and is set to exceed $5 million next year. A ‘let’s wait and see’ approach is no longer sufficient when it comes to cybersecurity. Take action to reduce your digital risk and stay ahead of cyber-attacks while keeping your health in check. Mastering both will give you a clear mind, both in your work and personal life. If an attack does occur, make sure you are at 100% and able to think clearly instead of being burnt out way before you can resolve things. Here are some tips to do both: 

  1. Take time to assess risk and learn to let go
    Make a list of sensitive assets and potential threats. Prioritise your defence for important areas. Then, master the skill of letting go, no more ‘what-if’s’. Stop carrying the burden with you everywhere you go, like a backpacker with a backpack. Don’t let work consume you. Leave this behind and focus on yourself and the 'little things' around you, like your breathing, the light and the sounds. Try meditation. For this, you get to set your own rules with where you do it and for how long (more of this on tip 8). 

  2. Use a good password manager
    Provide staff with a password manager to stop them from using easy passwords like their dog’s name, favourite destination etc… (we all know a few who do this!) and giving easy access to cyber criminals. Make sure these are regularly updated.

  3. Keep software up to date
    Monitor for vulnerabilities and patch software promptly. Staff should update apps when there is a new version available, this will make devices less vulnerable.

  4. Have a backup and disaster recovery plan in place 
    This should be constantly revised and updated according to business/policy changes. Detailed instructions for dealing with unplanned incidents will make response times faster, minimising the risk.
  5. Actively monitor for cyber threats 
    Don’t wait for an incident to happen, instead keep an eye out by monitoring for any data leaks or breaches with automated tools.

  6. Train your staff regularly and check in with them! 
    Conduct sessions to raise awareness of how cybercriminals hack into organisations and monetise this. Teach them the risks of this happening, and what they can do to prevent it. Check in with them after meditating to see how they are coping. It always helps when someone knows they’re not alone and that there are others in the same boat. Who knows? Maybe your colleague would also appreciate some meditation time, which could be implemented as a work culture. 

  7. Keep an eye on your third-party vendors with a loving attitude
    Juniper Research has estimated that the cost of supply chain attacks could exceed $80.6 billion by 2026. A threat actor can attack a business using a vulnerability in one of their suppliers that they are connected to. This would affect the organisation’s brand reputation and cost a lot for all the damages caused. Don’t let your supply chain be a way in for intruders or enemies, instead make them aware of the cyber threats that could arise if they don’t have the correct systems and tools in place. You can also monitor for breaches and vulnerabilities in your supply chain.

  8. 10 minutes of meditation
    Set aside 10 minutes a day to do meditation. Or you choose how much! There is no right or wrong answer. Focus on your breathing and a blank mind. Leave behind your desktop life and connect with yourself. Here are some tips for meditation beginners or listen to this video to start your journey today. The best part of this is that you get to do it even when you're at work! Remember you can meditate anywhere - it's all in the mind.

These are just a few things that should be considered to avoid leaving your business vulnerable, while maintaining good mental health. So, it’s time you change some habits to go from an expert IT leader to an expert yogi in just a few steps! Who says you can’t do both? 

Posted by Farisha Vadera


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