App Fatigue. Why it’s a Security Concern.


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David Areskog

Operations Manager
David is a Cyber Security expert and fully qualified to audit SMEs to Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus. He’s also an experienced IT engineer, having worked in multiple Managed Service Providers across the last decade.

At bzb IT, Dave is accountable for Service Delivery and Operational Efficiency alongside CE audits.

Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in apps? It seems as though every digital interaction is forcefully maneuvered towards an app now, whether that’s ordering a pizza or wishfully dreaming about your dream home on Rightmove. In the workplace, the number of apps and website tools that employees are using has skyrocketed. Data is showing about 40-60 different digital tools are being used, with 71% of employees feeling the sheer quantity is making their job more complex.

App fatigue is a very real thing and it’s becoming a cybersecurity problem. The more we get overwhelmed by the constant stream of notifications, the more likely we are to ignore them. I’ve been guilty more than once of slamming whatever button will get the notification off my screen quickest (don’t get me started on website cookies!).

Just think about the various digital alerts that you get. They come in:

  • Software apps on your computer
  • Web-based SaaS tools
  • Websites where you’ve allowed alerts
  • Mobile apps and tools
  • Email banners
  • Text & Whatsapp messages
  • Team communication tools

We’re also getting the same notification on multiple devices, which just adds to the problem. This leads to many issues that impact productivity and cybersecurity.

On top of the alert bombardment, every time we use a new app it comes with….yes you guessed it…a new password. Employees on average are already juggling a staggering 191 passwords, using at least 154 of them sometime during the month.

What are the Real Dangers of App Fatigue?

Ignoring Critical Updates

When digital alerts interrupt your work, usually when you’re in the zone, it’s easy to press that snooze button. We can see these small tasks and updates as not essential, for example install an app update or reboot your device.

Unfortunately, ignoring app updates on a device is dangerous. Many of those updates include important security patches for found vulnerabilities. When they’re not installed, the device and its network are at a higher risk. It becomes easier to suffer a successful cyberattack.

Employees Reuse Passwords (and They’re Often Weak)

Another security casualty of app fatigue is password security. The more accounts someone must create, the more likely they are to reuse passwords (remember the 191 passwords from above!). It’s estimated that passwords are typically reused 64% of the time.

Credential breach is a key driver of cloud data breaches. Hackers can easily crack weak passwords. The same password used several times leaves many accounts at risk.

Employees May Turn Off Alerts

Some alerts are okay to turn off. For example, do you really need to know every time someone responds to a group thread? Or just when they @name you? But, turning off important security alerts is not good.

There comes a breaking point when one more push notification can push someone over the edge. The problem with this is that in the mix of alerts are important ones. Such as an anti-malware app warning about a newly found virus.

What’s the Answer to App Fatigue?

It’s not realistic to just go back in time before all these apps were around, and many of these are genuinely important to the modern workplace. But you can put a strategy in place that puts people in charge of their tech, and not the other way around.

Streamline Your Business Applications

From both a productivity and security standpoint, fewer apps are better. The fewer apps you have, the less risk. Also, the fewer passwords to remember and notifications to address. So, try to find that right number for your business.

Look at the tools that you use to see where efficiencies can be made. Many companies are using two or more apps that can do the same function, or even legacy apps that are no longer ‘properly’ used.

Consider using an umbrella platform, we’re big advocates for using Microsoft 365 across most workplace tools. Users will only need a single login to access them, reducing that all important risk exposure.

Set Up Relevant Notifications

It’s difficult for individual users to know what types of notifications are the most important. Set up their app notifications for them or ask your MSP for help. This ensures they aren’t bombarded yet are still getting the important ones.

Automate Application Updates

A cybersecurity best practice is to automate device and software updates. This takes the process out of employees’ hands. It enhances productivity by removing unnecessary updates from their view. 

Automating device updates through a managed services solution improves security. It also mitigates the chance there will be a vulnerable app putting your network at risk.

Open a Two-Way Communication About Alerts

Employees may never turn off an alert because they’re afraid they might get in trouble. Managers may not even realize constant app alert interruptions are hurting productivity.

Communicate with employees and let them know they can communicate with you. Discuss how to use alerts effectively. As well as the best ways to manage alerts for a better and more productive workday. Why not hold a team session on this subject following your read of this article?

What’s the Answer to App Fatigue?

Today, it’s easy for cloud tools to get out of hand. We’re experts in consolidating and optimizing cloud environments to make sure you have a secure and efficient infrastructure. Give us a call on 0330 058 26 26 or drop us an email at today.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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