Feb 28 2023

CISOs struggle with stress and limited resources

Category: CISO,vCISODISC @ 1:10 pm

94% of CISOs report being stressed at work, with 65% admitting work-related stress issues are compromising their ability to protect their organization, according to Cynet.

Why CISO struggles with stress:

CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) often face high levels of stress due to the nature of their role. Here are some reasons why CISOs may struggle with stress:

  1. High-stakes responsibility: CISOs are responsible for protecting their organization’s sensitive information and ensuring that the organization’s systems and data are secure from cyber threats. The stakes are high, as a breach could have severe financial, legal, and reputational consequences for the organization. This level of responsibility can create significant stress for CISOs.
  2. Constantly evolving threats: Cyber threats are constantly evolving, which means that CISOs need to stay up-to-date with the latest security trends and technologies. This can be challenging and stressful, as they need to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
  3. Budget constraints: CISOs often struggle with limited budgets for their security programs, which can create stress as they need to make tough decisions about where to allocate resources and how to prioritize their security efforts.
  4. Talent shortages: There is a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals, which means that CISOs often struggle to find and retain talented staff. This can create stress as they need to find ways to manage their workload and keep their security programs running effectively.
  5. Balancing business needs and security: CISOs need to balance the needs of the business with the need for security, which can create stress as they need to find ways to enable business initiatives while still maintaining a secure environment.

All of these factors can contribute to the high levels of stress that CISOs often experience. To cope with this stress, CISOs may need to develop strong coping strategies such as seeking support from colleagues, practicing self-care, and prioritizing their workload. Additionally, organizations can help by providing their CISOs with adequate resources and support to help them manage their responsibilities effectively.


Among the CISOs surveyed, 100% said they needed additional resources to adequately cope with current IT security challenges.

Stress issues

The lack of bandwidth and resources is not only impacting CISOs, but their teams as well. According to the report, 74% say they are losing team members because of work-related stress issues, with 47% of these CISOs having more than one team member exit their role over the last 12 months.

Relentless stress levels are also affecting recruitment efforts with 83% of CISOs admitting they have had to compromise on the staff they hire to fill gaps left by employees who have quit their job. More than a third of the CISOs surveyed said they are either actively looking for or considering a new role.

“The results from our mental health survey are devastating but it’s not all doom and gloom. Our research found that CISOs know exactly what they need to reduce stress levels: more automated tools to manage repetitive tasks, better training, and the ability to outsource some work responsibilities,” said Eyal Gruner, CEO, Cynet.

“One of the most eye-opening insights from the report was the fact that more than 50% of the CISOs we surveyed said consolidating multiple security technologies on a single platform would decrease their work-related stress levels,” Gruner added.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 77% of CISOs believe that their limited bandwidth and lack of resources has led to important security initiatives falling to the wayside, with 79% of these CISOs claiming they have received complaints from board members, colleagues or employees that security tasks are not being handled effectively.
  • 93% of CISOs believe they are spending too much time on tactical tasks instead of performing strategic, high-value work and management responsibilities. Among the CISOs who believe they are overly invested in tactical tasks, more than a quarter report spending their workday almost exclusively on tactical/operational tasks.
  • 84% of CISOs say they have had to cancel a vacation due to an urgent work matter and 64% report they’ve missed a private event because of work fatigue. More than 90% consistently work 40+ hours per week with no break.

The impact of work-related stress on everyday life

The major takeaway from the survey is that CISOs – and their teams – are suffering from overwhelming amounts of stress and it’s affecting everything from the security of their company to their day-to-day work routines and, ultimately, their life outside of work.

In fact, 77% of CISOs said that work-related stress was directly impacting their physical health, mental health, and sleep patterns.

The company surveyed chief information security officers (CISO) at small to midsize businesses with security teams of five employees or less to better understand their levels of work-related stress and how their mental health is impacting their work life and personal life.

To find out how you can reverse rising CISO work stress levels and better protect your business, download Cynet’s full report now: 2023 Implications of Stress on CISOs 2023 Survey.

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Tags: Chief Information Security Officer, CISO

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