Chapter 4: Unmasking The Hidden Costs: The economic impact of alert fatigue

With the relentless barrage of alerts bombarding security operations centers (SOCs), the battle against alert fatigue intensifies. Numbers paint a daunting picture, revealing the sheer scale of this challenge.

On average, SOC teams grapple with a deluge of approximately 11,000 alerts daily. This number skyrockets for Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) and Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services, making manual investigation an impractical endeavor.

The False Positive Trade-off

A sizeable portion, about 25%, of security alerts—those intended to flag potential threats—are, in fact, false positives. For large enterprises, this figure can skyrocket to nearly 43%, and for MSSPs and MDRs, it can reach a staggering 54%. This prevalence of false positives becomes a significant time and resource sink for security analysts.

The cost of ignoring the alarms

Alarmingly, around 67% of IT teams choose to ignore lower-priority alerts, either overlooking them entirely or reducing the sensitivity of their Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) systems. This approach, however, can have dire consequences, potentially allowing early-stage threats to metamorphose into full-blown attacks, slipping through the cracks of neglect.

The cost of responding to false positives

Security analysts dedicate an average of 10 hours each week to addressing false positive alerts. This translates to an annual cost of approximately $25,896 per analyst, based on an average hourly rate of $49. Given that actual analyst salaries often exceed this benchmark, the financial strain escalates.

Unveiling the Malware False Positive Cost Calculator

To quantify the impact of false positives, VMRay has developed a “Malware False Positive Cost Calculator.”

This user-friendly tool factors in metrics such as the daily influx of malware alerts, the percentage of false positives, the number of SOC analysts, average hourly costs, and the time required to resolve an alert. By leveraging this calculator, organizations gain insights into the financial implications of false positives, facilitating informed decision-making.

The non-financial costs of alert fatigue

The impact of having to deal with false positives is not limited to the financial cost. There are other impacts, such as:

  • Increased risk as some alerts might pass through unnoticed
  • Lack of time to dedicate to more strategic tasks
  • Limited room for growth of the SOC team
  • Diminishing satisfaction and engagement.

Conclusion: Mitigating False Positive Costs

Navigating the intricate landscape of false positives demands strategic solutions. Addressing this challenge necessitates more than just technical sophistication; it requires a comprehensive understanding of the monetary and operational repercussions associated with alert fatigue. By embracing proactive approaches, organizations can optimize resources, minimize financial waste, and bolster overall security posture.

Key Takeaways:

  • An average of 11,000 alerts bombard SOC teams daily, demanding efficient strategies.
  • Ignoring lower-priority alerts, a prevalent practice, exposes organizations to potential risks.
  • About 25% of security alerts are false positives, causing considerable resource drain.
  • Responding to false positives consumes 10 weekly hours per analyst, with an annual cost of approximately $25,896.
  • VMRay’s “Malware False Positive Cost Calculator” aids in quantifying false positive impact.