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Is your company at risk due to App Fatigue?

hidden security risks and how to squash them

Barrett Dilger

April 10, 2023

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Fatigue from Apps

People love apps. One of the interesting things I found while writing about tech for a competitive advantage was that people spend 90% of their time on mobile apps vs only 10% on mobile websites. That’s a staggering statistic.

That’s why it’s only natural for businesses to implement apps as their web tools and have their employees use them for productivity. The number of apps businesses use regularly keeps increasing as well, with the current average in the range of 40-60 total apps.

No wonder it has started to become overwhelming. 71% of employees feel that their work is harder due to so many tools being used. It’s due to a poor rollout and lack of integration, causing your productivity tools to actually make you less productive.

It takes a lot of energy to focus on each app as well. Every message has an alert. Every update is a popup. There is so much “noise” going on it is a challenge to focus. It’s called app fatigue.

App fatigue kicks in when people are overwhelmed. Just think about every digital alert you get. You are being alerted by apps on your computer, web-based SaaS tools, mobile apps, websites that you’ve allowed alerts, email banners, SMS messages and other messaging apps, and team communication tools. Have you gotten an alert in the time it has taken you to read this far in the article?

Many notifications double down and alert you on multiple devices. I get email alerts on my PC and my phone. MS Teams messages also come across on both. If I don’t respond to a Teams message, after a while it sends me an email to make sure I didn’t miss it…which then alerts me on my PC and my phone. It’s a snowball effect.

App fatigue is a very real problem and is fast evolving into a cybersecurity issue as well as it causes people to make bad decisions.

How App Fatigue is a Cybersecurity Risk

Ignoring Updates

I’m guilty of something. I never get an oil change for my car when I need to. It’s not like I’m not aware, there is a little light on my dash that tells me. Once it’s time, it tells me every time I get in my car. Every time. The entire time. It’s kind of annoying. I ignore it. I’ve got too much going on to worry about that right now.

That is the same exact mentality for app updates. I just launched the app because I need to do something. Not now. I’ll do it later. I don’t even know how long it will take. Stop messaging me. Those repeated messages just get ignored.

Unfortunately, the security that comes from them gets ignored just as much. Many of those updates include patches for known vulnerabilities. There’s a greater chance for a successful cyber attack without the patches installed, creating a higher risk state for your entire network.

Disabling Alerts

I know how to stop being annoyed by those constant alerts. Just turn them off!

One of the most significant contributors to app fatigue is constant alerts. They can break your concentration and make you less productive. You really should turn some of them off. You don’t necessarily need to get pinged every time anybody talks to anybody else in your group chat. It really is ok to reduce those down to direct messages or if somebody addresses you directly with the @name function.

What you should not do though is turn off all notifications. Sometimes when employees get overwhelmed, they overreact and turn everything off. That means they won’t be notified about those security updates or threat alerts. That isn’t a good situation.

Bad Password Habits

Convenience is the key. Everybody wants it easy. The more apps that a person uses makes things more complex, the exact opposite of easy. Employees will commonly start making things easier for themselves by reusing the same password across all their accounts. The more apps introduced, the more likely this is occurring.  Passwords are reused approximately 64% of the time according to this 2022 report

Stolen credentials are the most prominent vulnerability in cloud breaches. Weak passwords can easily be cracked. Even strong passwords can be obtained via phishing scams. A reused password just gives access to every account instead of one. It’s a hacker’s dream.

What’s the solution to app fatigue?

Those are some of the key ways app fatigue affects your cybersecurity. What can you do about it?

Streamline your apps

Are your employees all over the place with apps? One for ERP, one for CRM, one for internal messaging, one for who knows what? Reduce the payload and streamline what apps you use. Fewer apps means fewer notifications, fewer passwords, and fewer points of entry to keep secure.

Review what apps are used and why. There is rarely a perfect, all-encompassing app that does it all, but apps tend to do many things. Where is the overlap? What redundancies can you trim?

Consider focusing on a universal platform like Microsoft365. While it is full of various apps, they are under one umbrella so only require one account login. Perhaps you use some other SaaS app you can’t get away from. Check if you can implement Single-Sign-On, where you can assign your M365 account credentials to it to again reduce the burden of accounts and passwords.

Corporately manage notifications

Having your employees manage their notifications isn’t always a good idea. They might not know they can turn certain things on or off or may turn important notifications off accidentally. If you manage them from the top level, you can control what notifications appear. It removes that burden from the employee and allows you to standardize how notifications work for the entire business.

Manage Updates

Similarly to notifications, you can also manage devices. In doing so, you can ensure that updates are done automatically. The end result is a boost in productivity because those updates are removed from the task list of the employee, and possibly even from their view. The app will always be the most up to date and current iteration for them. Obviously, always being up to date ensures that any security patches are always in place, making your network more secure.

Make communication an open door

Here’s a non-tech solution to close it all out. There are ways to take control of your apps and policies, but are you making the best decisions? Open up that communication with your team. Maybe they are getting too many notifications, or maybe not enough. If they know you are approachable to tweaking the apps to custom fit your company workflow, that will greatly influence team cohesiveness, creating a happier and more productive environment.

It’s easy for apps to get out of control. If you need help in implementing any policies or need recommendations to streamline your app usage, feel free to reach out for a 15-minute chat. Consulting with businesses to help them be more successful through technology is what we do!