In a 2022 Orca Security study of security practitioners, 55% say they are missing critical alerts, often weekly and even daily. Considering 59% receive more than 500 public cloud security alerts per day, missing critical alerts and reacting too slowly are serious risks from alert fatigue. As companies and government agencies wrestle with Log4j for potentially another decade, keeping Java security professionals alert is top of mind. So what is this insidious thing called alert fatigue?
What is alert fatigue?
Alert fatigue is desensitization to alerts due to repeated exposure over a long period of time. Alerts can come in at an overwhelming rate. It can be difficult enough to keep up with serious and critical alerts. But when you add false positives, duplicates, irrelevant alerts, and routine notifications, inspecting every one can be challenging. You start to spot check or place messages in folders to read more closely later. When status updates look like critical alerts, you may stop responding promptly.
Alert fatigue can be a sign that your alerts and notification system isn’t optimized or managed properly. The consequences of leaving alert fatigue unaddressed can be felt in both the short and long term.
In the short term, team members might overlook critical system security alerts that could have otherwise prevented a cyber threat. In the long term, alert fatigue can impact the productivity levels of your systems and environments as employees experiencing alert fatigue take longer on average to address issues and incidents.
Assessing the risk in Java
Java uses libraries and components in addition to the Java runtime environment (JRE), potentially introducing vulnerabilities that hackers and criminals can exploit.
Static application security testing (SAST) tools find vulnerabilities in the application’s source code. Static analysis while developers are still writing code can expose errors and vulnerabilities before remediation is expensive and messy. SAST tools scan source code in Java environments intermittently and incompletely. They often find vulnerabilities that are present in your environment but that are not running, leading to false positives that consume more human hours, reducing risks from alert fatigue.
Dynamic application security testing (DAST) solutions check access points and simulate attacks that exploit common vulnerabilities. Developers identify vulnerabilities caused by code injections into an authentication flaw, web page, or other query. DAST tools can’t access source code and don’t allow developers to mark the line number of code errors, leading to manual work to find and fix errors.
Interactive application security testing (IAST) tools can be manual and labor-intensive to achieve best results, again taking a toll on security workers.
Strategies for alleviating risks from alert fatigue
Companies have implemented strategies for dealing with alert fatigue, both technology solutions and cultural adjustments. Here are a few:
- Suppression management: some alerting tools block redundant alerts, notifications from the same trigger, or messages from the same incident. Different solutions provide varying degrees of control by allowing you to adjust thresholds for urgency, time between alerts, time between events, and more
- Subscriptions: Subscriptions provide a way to alleviate irrelevant notifications. Users can subscribe to alerts from services they are responsible for and unsubscribe from alerts that would just be noise.
- Routing rules: Routing allows users to send notifications to the next person in line if they are away or unable to address them. Automated rules can forward notifications if they are not addressed within a set amount of time.
- Intelligent monitoring solutions: Intelligent monitoring systems can reduce alerts using a machine learning and artificial intelligence. These tools can limit the percentage of false positives, allowing your team to pay more attention to the alerts they receive.
- Tiered alerts: Not all alerts are equally urgent. Tiered alert and notification systems recategorize alerts depending on their urgency and how long they can wait before damaging your systems.
- Critical information: Many alerts just tell you something’s wrong. Ideally each alert should contain pertinent information and be actionable so your team to act immediately.
Using the right solutions
Risks from alert fatigue create a major issue that most teams can’t solve on their own without professional assistance, whether in-house or outsourced. When working with Java-based monitoring and alert systems, you need someone with expertise in the field.
Azul is one of the world’s leading software companies with over 20 years of Java leadership experience. We’re the largest vendor outside of Oracle, and our Azul Platform Core provides the best comprehensive builds of OpenJDK for security and running Java applications.
When it comes to reducing alert and notification fatigue, Azul is highly experienced and has the case studies to prove it. Check out our portfolio of products, services, and solutions to help you optimize your software applications today.