Dutch cyber security professionals experience stress similar to soldiers in a war zone, experts say

Dutch digital stability is at risk if too little attention continues to be paid to the mental health of IT specialists, Sander Hofmanmanager of sales engineering at Mimecast, warned.

The creeping decrease in the security of organizations, the growing threat of cyber attacks and the feeling of anonymity make professional work in cyber security difficult.

Research we commission worldwide shows that a quarter of IT professionals are considering changing jobs in two years because of the risk of burnout,” Hofman said.

In a labor market heavily burdened by major shortages, it could face a serious blow to Dutch digital strength.

Interestingly, however, the burnout rates of cyber security specialists in the Netherlands (35%) are significantly lower than the world average (56%). “It’s partly because of the down-to-earthness of the Dutch,” he says. “We talk in the shop. We also focus on things quickly and, because of our directness, we also dare to do this with higher management. In addition, the part-time culture in the Netherlands can have a role, too, he reflected. “As a result of that culture, our work-life balance in the Netherlands is better than in many countries around us.”

Despite the fact that Dutch people dare to sound the alarm when things go wrong, there is still a lot of misunderstanding in many boardrooms about the work of cyber security and IT specialists, added Hofman.

“We’re also quick to point fingers,” he said. “Take the mayor of a municipality hit by ransomware saying on television that an employee entered his password incorrectly, without further background information. Maybe there was a reason for the mistake? Is there a big time pressure or overwork? That background is often ignored, and conclusions are made quickly and shared widely. That doesn’t help create a safe workplace.”

Brain unprepared for cyber threats

it start time the cyber security profession is more serious, he said Hofmann, nnot only in the management and board, but in the whole society. The pressure that security professionals face is that is similar to that of soldiers in war zones. Peter Corona is the THE founder of CyberMindz.organ organization that promotes mental health in the cyber community.

“Our brain, the product of two hundred million years of evolution, is complete unadapt to the stress of a digital environment,” he said, explaining that our limbic system is responsible for our “fight-or-flight” response and can move quickly, bypassing the rational part of our brain.

“When we face a predator and have to start thinking rationally about being at risk, and what are the possible options and scenarios, it’s too late,” Coroneos said. “So, your limbic system takes over and makes you react and flee in a millisecond.”

In this reaction, all kinds of things happen in your body. All kinds of stress hormones are released, more blood is pumped into your muscles, and you become hyper-alert.

“The beauty of this system is that when you’re safe again, your body and brain return to their degraded state,” he said.

However, Coroneos warns: “The latter does not happen if the threat is not physical. This is because our brain does not distinguish between physical and what we can call psychological threats. And psychological threats are the most common of us today, digital world. This means that your limbic system remains in constant stress, and there is no way out.”

This is the reason for the burnout of many cyber specialists. Mimecast’s survey showed that 46% of Dutch respondents feel more pressure to prepare properly due to increased media coverage of ransomware attacks.

In addition, they worry about their cyber insurance coverage and fear damaging attacks wilderness critical infrastructure.

“Add to that the chronic shortage of cyber specialists and you can understand that the workload is high,” said Hofman. “Also, their work is often invisible until a major incident occurs, after which the security team will always responsible. They are expected to reduce the impact on the business, while this is often unrealistic with available resources. “

Cyber ​​criminals, while, have unlimited resources and capabilities, which often makes cyber specialists feel like they are fighting a losing battle.

Accountability and recognition

CyberMindz tools THE Integrative Restoration or iRest protocol to help cyber specialists deal with continuous pressure and threats.

“It’s a protocol that is DEVELOPED for the soldiers through Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist in the US, but it also workss very good for IT professionals,” said Corona.

Hoffman emphasized that it is important with organizations on note their IT professionals and cyber specialists. “The need for cyber expertise is great, and competition is high,” he said. “But I still found some companies that ensure a safe working environment for IT professionals. In Mimecast, we have a platform where our employees can, without knowing the organization, ask for help when they need it.

“I am ALSO just talked to a customer who told me they are there an independent coach around with people can talk on. Not a manager or anyone else CONTENTSbut to the outside man with whom you can share your worries and stress.”

More attention to the level of the pressure board and stress experienced cyber professionals a first step, according to Hoffman. From that, a safe workplace with the right conditions required will follow.

“But ultimately, as a society, we NEED recognize the situations and day-to-day challenges faced by IT professionals,” he added. “I am only hope an organization like NCSC or a similar body will take the gauntlet and start taking care of the well-being of cyber security specialists in the Netherlands.”

Leave a Comment