Burnout in Information Security


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Stress, burnout, rage, despair- all common experiences to many in the information security community. This panel will discuss the issues, compare and contrast them to other industries. We’ll also discuss how to recognize stress in ourselves and others, and steps that can be taken to combat it. We aren’t looking at medical or psychological cures, but rather what the average would call common sense approaches to dealing with stress in your life.

We will start with a presentation of common stress and burnout issues and triggers encountered in information security. These factors can be internal (for example, some of the personality types drawn to the field), external (harassment by coworkers, lack of respect by business), and cultural (stereotypes of “geeks”). The discussion will continue with a look at other high stress careers and examine what (if anything) we can learn from them. Many of the commonly considered “high stress” occupations, such as law enforcement, medicine, and military have much more visceral activities and responses- this must be considered when attempting to transfer lessons from these occupations to infosec.

Talk was delivered at Security BSides Las Vegas, 2011

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Burnout in Information Security

  1. 1. Burnout in  Information Security     NOT a "how-to" guide
  2. 2. Burnout? <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  3. 3. Burnout? <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  4. 4. Burnout! <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  5. 5. Who we are <ul><li>Martin McKeay </li></ul><ul><li>Josh Corman </li></ul><ul><li>Stacy Thayer, PhD </li></ul><ul><li>KC Yerrid </li></ul><ul><li>Gal Shpantzer </li></ul><ul><li>Jack Daniel </li></ul>
  6. 6. We are here to help, but... <ul><li>Moral support, that we can do. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Clinical support, we can't do that. </li></ul><ul><li>  We are not therapists or counselors. </li></ul><ul><li>The psychologist on the panel is not your psychologist. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Hell, we aren't even qualified bartenders. </li></ul><ul><li>    Which leads to a topic we need to discuss later. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Let's not end up like this... <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  8. 8. GENDER Men = 90%  Women = 7%  Undisclosed= 3%   AGE < 25 = 8% 25-35 = 47% 35-45 = 36% 45-55 = 8% 55+ = 1%   TIME IN SECURITY INDUSTRY < 1 year = 4% 1-3 years = 13% 3-6 years = 19% 6-10 years = 23% 10-15 years = 29% 15+ years = 11%     SURVEY: 400 RESPONDENTS WHAT IS YOUR ROLE Executive = 5% Senior Management = 8% Middle Management = 16% Non-Management = 59% Self-Employed = 6.8% Student = 6.1%   LEVEL OF STRESS Extremely Stressed = 10% Very Stressed = 24% Moderately Stressed = 40% Mildly Stressed = 25% Not Stressed = 6%   BIGGEST STRESSORS Job Satisfaction = 55% Family = 33% Finances = 43% Pwnage = 23% Social Relationships = 16%
  9. 10.  
  10. 11. What Do You Like Best/Least About The Security Industry? <ul><li>BEST </li></ul><ul><li>Community </li></ul><ul><li>Lots to learn </li></ul><ul><li>Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>Great Conferences </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Great Challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Always new things to learn </li></ul><ul><li>Really Smart People </li></ul>LEAST Elitism/Egos FUD Snobbery Attitude from Management Politics Media Hype Having to tolerate bad business decisions Snobby &quot;Rock Stars&quot;
  11. 12. Burnout: Two directions <ul><li>Causes of burnout </li></ul><ul><li>- ? </li></ul><ul><li>- ? </li></ul><ul><li>- ? </li></ul><ul><li>- ? </li></ul><ul><li>Consequences of burnout </li></ul><ul><li>-Depression </li></ul><ul><li>-Financial losses </li></ul><ul><li>-Up to and including suicide </li></ul>
  12. 13. Alcohol... <ul><li>And other substances- can be abused. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Yes, we're in Vegas, and partying. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>BUT, this is a problem for many.  And we know it. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Alcohol can lead to poor decisions <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  14. 15. Alcohol, drugs, and health <ul><li>Much bigger problems than simply developing this kind of six-pack abs. </li></ul>
  15. 16. What do you want to add or ask? <ul><li>This is about all of us. </li></ul><ul><li>That includes you. </li></ul>
  16. 17. Please participate <ul><li>This is an ongoing project, please follow @secburnout on Twitter and watch for updates at secburnout.org </li></ul>
  17. 18. Ending on a hopeful note <ul><li>-Key messages: </li></ul><ul><li>-You're not alone, this happens to other people, even other hackers. </li></ul><ul><li>--Get help early and often.  </li></ul><ul><li>-It won't be this bad forever. </li></ul>
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