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Most IT professionals put work before families and take blame when things go wrong

02 December 2015

But many still love their jobs, according to a new ‘IT happiness at work barometer’

IT professionals are the unsung heroes of modern organizations –putting work before family commitments and taking the blame when things go wrong, according to new research conducted by Unified Security Management leader AlienVault.

The research, which surveyed the attitudes of more than 600 IT professionals into how they are being treated at work, found that almost two-thirds (63%) have missed a wedding, funeral or similarly important family occasion in order to resolve a work issue. The vast majority of respondents (91%) have also come into work when they were sick to ensure that a project does not fail.

In addition, when it comes to their own careers, most will set aside personal ambition for the good of their organization as a whole. A majority of respondents (57%) said that they have taken the blame for another department or colleague’s failure if it was for the benefit of the company.

Yet despite the obvious challenges faced by IT professionals, many of them still love their jobs. The largest group of respondents (36%) reported being happy or very happy at work, while 32% felt unhappy and 31% were neutral.

Javvad Malik, Security Advocateat AlienVault, explained: “IT guys are the unsung heroes of many organizations. Often working in isolation, they are largely considered to be supporting players in many workplaces – yet the responsibility being placed on them is huge. In the event of a cyber attack, network issue, or outage, they will drop everything to fix a problem, even forsaking important personal commitments.  But despite coping with the challenges of what is now a 24-hour-a-day career, many still love their jobs and are motivated to continue by a deep sense of job satisfaction.”
How are you treated at work? IT professionals respond in their own words:
• “People call me Jesus because I have long hair and save them from IT issues.”
• “We are treated like wizards”
• “Everybody loves me”
• “I am seen like a god and treated incredibly well”
• “I am a hero or villain, sometimes both at the same time.”
• “I’m either ‘Mr fix It’ or ‘he’s the one that broke it’”
• “My boss always blames me when something breaks.”

The research also revealed the extent to which IT professionals work in isolation, and this poses a potential threat to their organizations. Having technical skills and responsibilities which are not always understood by their bosses means that IT professionals often work unsupervised and may not always report problems when they occur.

Respondents were asked how their bosses respond when they make a mistake at work. Nearly two thirds (61%) said that their boss would only notice if the internet goes down or users start complaining. Twelve per cent thought that their boss wouldn’t realize or understand, while over a quarter (27%) said that their boss notices immediately and gets them to fix the problem.

In addition, a mere 8% said that they would ask their boss for help if they made a mistake at work. A fifth (21%) seek advice from their colleagues, a quarter from online IT support group Spiceworks (23%) – while the largest group (37%) said that they would search Google for the answers.

Javvad Malik continued: “IT professionals need to be self-sufficient. With such specialist knowledge, those working in smaller teams can find themselves with no one to turn to for help. This can make the job more stressful for those involved, and is also a potential risk for organizational security, given the scale of responsibility placed upon IT staff.

Fortunately there are ample online resources available to help, such as AlienVault’s Open Threat Exchange, where users share information and collaborate on potential cyber security threats. Harnessing the power of the crowd can help even a one-man IT team feel as though they have a group of experts at their fingertips.”

First launched in 2012 as one of the first crowd-sourced threat-sharing systems in the industry, AlienVault’s Open Threat Exchange (OTX) now has more than 26,000 participants in over 140 countries that contribute to more than one million threat indicators daily.

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