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What Is App Fatigue; Why Is It a Security Issue?

The increasing number of apps and web tools utilized by employees on a regular basis is a growing trend. On average, most departments rely on approximately 40-60 different digital tools. Unfortunately, this abundance of apps has led to a complex work environment, as reported by 71% of employees. The apps we use daily often bombard us with various alerts, such as receiving a notification when someone mentions our name on a Teams channel, or when an update becomes available. Additionally, we are constantly alerted about errors or security issues. This influx of alerts has given rise to a phenomenon known as app fatigue, which poses a significant cybersecurity problem. As employees become overwhelmed by notifications, they are more likely to ignore them, thus jeopardizing the security of their systems.

Consider the multitude of digital alerts we encounter on a regular basis:

  1. Software apps installed on our computers
  2. Web-based SaaS tools
  3. Websites where we have allowed alerts
  4. Mobile apps and tools
  5. Email banners
  6. Text messages
  7. Team communication tools

To compound the issue, some employees receive the same notification on multiple devices, further exacerbating the problem. This situation leads to several challenges that impede productivity and compromise cybersecurity.

In addition to the alert overload, the introduction of new apps by management necessitates the creation of new passwords. Employees already struggle with managing approximately 191 passwords, with around 154 of them being used at some point during the month.

How Does App Fatigue Pose Risks to Companies?

1. Ignoring Updates: When frequent digital alerts interrupt workflow, employees may constantly feel behind schedule, causing them to neglect non-urgent tasks such as installing app updates. Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of app alerts, employees tend to disregard them, hastily dismissing update prompts due to time constraints and uncertainty regarding the duration of the process. This behavior is dangerous, as updates often include critical security patches to address vulnerabilities. Failure to install these updates exposes devices and networks to heightened risks, making them susceptible to successful cyberattacks.

2. Password Reuse and Weakness: App fatigue also undermines password security. The more SaaS accounts employees need to create, the more likely they are to reuse passwords. It is estimated that passwords are reused approximately 64% of the time. Password breaches significantly contribute to cloud data breaches since hackers can easily crack weak passwords. Reusing the same password across multiple accounts puts numerous accounts at risk.

3. Disabling Alerts: While it may be acceptable to disable certain alerts, such as notifications for group thread responses, disabling important security alerts is ill-advised. There is a breaking point when employees become overwhelmed by push notifications and opt to disable all alerts across all apps. Unfortunately, among the flood of alerts are critical ones, such as warnings from anti-malware apps regarding newly discovered viruses.

What’s the Solution to App Fatigue?

Reverting to a time before the proliferation of apps is unrealistic. However, implementing a strategy that empowers individuals to control their technology usage is feasible and necessary.

1. Streamline Business Applications: 

A reduction in the number of apps used is advantageous from both productivity and security perspectives. The fewer apps employed, the lower the risk. This also results in fewer passwords to remember and notifications to address. Assess the existing tools to identify redundancies, as many organizations employ multiple apps that perform the same function. Consider adopting umbrella platforms like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, which offer multiple work tools accessible through a single login.

2. IT Team-Managed Notifications: 

Determining which notifications are critical can be challenging for users. Therefore, it is beneficial to have the IT team configure app notifications. This ensures employees receive important alerts without being overwhelmed.

3. Automated Application Updates: 

Automating device and software updates is a cybersecurity best practice. By removing the responsibility of updates from employees, productivity is enhanced. Employing a managed services solution to automate device updates bolsters security and mitigates the risk associated with vulnerable apps that may compromise the network.

4. Encourage Two-Way Communication About Alerts: 

Employees may hesitate to disable alerts due to fear of potential consequences. Managers may be unaware of the negative impact constant app alert interruptions have on productivity. Establish open lines of communication with employees to convey that they are free to discuss any concerns. Initiate discussions on effective alert management to facilitate a more productive work environment.

If you require assistance in taming your cloud app environment, I.T. ISIN Solutions is here to help. We specialize in consolidating and optimizing cloud app environments. Contact us today for expert guidance.

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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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