Three Tips to Conquering Alert Fatigue 

Written by
Saty Sundarram
Published on
April 5, 2024

While security tools have made incredible strides in detecting, preventing and responding to potential risks and vulnerabilities, IT professionals are inundated by the high volume of alerts that these tools often generate. This phenomenon, commonly referred to as alert or alarm fatigue, can be observed across a variety of industries, but it has been particularly problematic in cybersecurity for years. According to a Sumo Logic poll, 70% of security professionals say the volume of their alerts has doubled over the last five years, with 93% claiming they can’t address them all in a single day.  

Not to mention, this overflow frequently puts security teams in a difficult position where they’re forced to determine which alerts require urgent action and which can be addressed later. It’s critical that organizations recognize the urgency of this issue, or else the risk of overlooking a critical vulnerability could lead to potential exploit. 

What is Alert Fatigue in Cybersecurity?

Alert fatigue occurs when security professionals experience a high volume of alerts from the various tools and systems across their organization. This consistent influx of notifications can understandably be overwhelming, and commonly leads to burnout, heightened stress levels, increased turnover rates and ultimately threat desensitization. The issue is further exacerbated by false positives, system complexities, lack of context and limited customization for categorizing alerts. 

The most common outcome of alert fatigue is burnout, which can compromise an organization’s ability to maintain the level of attention and vigilance required for effective threat detection and response. This becomes a serious problem, as decreased vigilance can result in a successful cyberattack.

The bottom line? Without proper procedures in place to help security teams effectively manage their alerts, your organization will undoubtedly lack the security posture needed to protect against attacks. 

Tips to Conquer Alert Fatigue

Now that we've established what alert fatigue is and the problems it can present to your organization, here are a few tips to help security teams keep it in check: 

  • Ensure actionable alerts: It's crucial to ensure that alerts generated by your security solutions are actionable and relevant. This means fine-tuning your alerting criteria to eliminate noise and focus on genuine threats. By reducing the volume of non-actionable alerts, security teams can better allocate their resources and respond effectively to genuine security incidents.

  • Establish Clear Alert Policies and Procedures: Clear and well-defined alert policies and procedures are essential. Organizations should establish comprehensive guidelines outlining how alerts are triaged, investigated and remediated. This includes defining roles and responsibilities within the security team, establishing escalation paths for high-priority alerts and documenting standard operating procedures for incident response. 

    By formalizing alert handling processes, teams can ensure consistency in their approach to threat detection and response, reducing the likelihood of overlooking critical alerts or wasting time on redundant investigations. Furthermore, regular reviews and updates to alert policies enable organizations to adapt to evolving threats and fine-tune their response strategies based on lessons learned from past incidents.
  • Implement Smart Automation: Automation, if used responsibly, can play a pivotal role in alleviating cybersecurity alert fatigue by streamlining repetitive tasks and augmenting human capabilities. Smart automation can not only accelerate response times, but also minimize the cognitive burden on security analysts, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks that require human expertise. 

    In the last two years or so, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become quite the topic of conversation in the software development world; however, it's important to strike a balance between automation and human oversight to ensure that critical decisions are not solely reliant on machine-driven processes, maintaining the integrity and agility of the security operations.

Build Smarter, Not Harder with RapidFort

We know that mitigating alert fatigue can be easier said than done, so let us help you alleviate some of the pressure. RapidFort’s Runtime Protection enables security teams to get prioritized contextual runtime information about their applications' vulnerabilities, with near zero false positives—and they can automatically secure and harden unused software in their workloads. 

Ready to run with RapidFort? Request a demo today and see how our platform can ease the burden on your security teams.

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