Alert overload still plagues cybersecurity industry

Alert overload still plagues the cybersecurity industry, according to Critical Start. Forty-seven percent of respondents reported personally investigating 10 to 20 alerts each day, a 12% increase from 2019. Moreover, 25% of respondents said they investigate 21 to 40 alerts each day, up from 14% the year prior.

alert overload

“Just like businesses and organizations from both the public and private sector are consistently under attack from malicious actors, security professionals are consistently being bombarded with alerts to investigate,” said Jordan Mauriello, Senior VP of Managed Services at Critical Start. “This is a problem that isn’t going away, so it is imperative that enterprises invest in the people, process, and technology that are needed to combat this alert overload.”

Reseachers surveyed 100 SOC professionals across enterprises, Managed Security Services Providers (MSSP) and Managed Detection & Response (MDR) providers to evaluate the state of incident response within SOCs from a variety of perspectives, including alert volume and management, business models, customer communications, and SOC analyst training and turnover.

Other key findings include:

  • Positively false: Nearly 70% of respondents (68%) said that 25 to 75% of the alerts they investigate on a daily basis are false positives.
  • Turning a blind eye: Almost half (49%) of all respondents said they turn off high volume alerting features when there are too many alerts for analysts to process, creating the potential for a legitimate and serious alert to be missed.
  • Back to school: 95% of respondents now report receiving more than 10 hours of training each year.

Additionally, Critical Start used this year’s survey to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the cybersecurity industry during 2020. Key takeaways include:

  • 66% of survey takers reported seeing an increase in alerts since the known spread of COVID-19 began in mid-March of 2020.
  • 89% said they had been forced to work remotely as a result of COVID-19.
  • 80% reported taking steps to change the security posture of their organization because of COVID-19 induced remote work.



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