Shadow IT is becoming one of the most troublesome problems for any company. Even small businesses are getting hit by it. It is creating many new challenges for the IT department. Shadow IT can put your entire network at risk. According to a report by Gartner, by 2020, more than 30% of attacks will be on shadow IT resources. Thus, enterprises can no longer ignore shadow IT.
It was easy to deal with Shadow IT in the past. You can easily scan your whole network for unauthorized access points or for software that was not approved by you. After that, you can easily shut down unauthorized applications or access points. However, it has become very difficult to find shadow IT resources. There are 100 of applications running in the cloud. Thus, it is very difficult to find any unauthorized application.
What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT is basically any technology, application or IT application that’s deployed without getting any approval from the IT department. Sometimes even personal devices like USB devices or smartphones are considered as Shadow IT devices. The most general example of shadow IT resources are services like Salesforces or Dropbox. You can even consider messengers like Whatsapp and Viber as shadow IT. However, the definition of shadow IT varies according to company policy.
Why people use Shadow IT?
Shadow IT are technologies or devices which doesn’t have any approval to run. It is mostly applications that can help people in getting their work done efficiently and quickly. Most people turn to shadow IT resources due to following reasons:
- Efficiency: Sometimes approved applications or solutions are slower and less effective when compared to other unauthorized alternatives.
- Compatibility: Many corporate applications are not compatible with personal devices.
- Comfort: People love using software and applications that they are comfortable with.
Most people that use shadow IT only see its advantage. They can do their work more efficiently by using shadow IT. But, they don’t understand the security risks which are associated with shadow IT.
Security risks of using shadow IT
- Data Loss: If an application is running without your IT team approval, then your IT department can’t take back up of the application that you are using. It is up to the shadow IT users to take a backup of the applications that they are running. But, most of the shadow IT users don’t think that taking back up is necessary. Without a proper backup strategy, you can lose important data that was stored in shadow IT applications. This can cause huge damage to the business if the data is important.
- Lack of security: Your IT department can’t check who is accessing these resources. There are many employees that shouldn’t have the ability to copy, check or modify some confidential data. Employees that have been terminated or resigned can still access these applications. Even hackers can remotely get access to these shadow resources.
- Inefficiencies: This statement might look contradictory as most people use shadow IT applications to efficiently do their work. But, if you are introducing a new technology in your IT infrastructure, then it is going to affect other resources also. There should be proper testing of every technology before deploying it. The testing phase helps in understanding the impact that the application will have on other resources. Thus, you can deal with the inefficiencies caused by it.
- If an application is implemented without these tests, then it can impact another resource. It might help you in making one process faster. But, it is going to affect other applications. Some applications can even create a point of failure which can shut down your whole IT infrastructure.
- Cyber security Risks: Hackers are often looking for vulnerabilities that they can exploit. If any vulnerability is found in an application, then the software vendor will issue a security patch for it. IT teams will install these patches to make sure that the whole infrastructure is secured from hackers. But, they don’t know about shadow IT resources. Thus, they can’t install security patches for shadow IT resources.
How to mitigate shadow IT risks?
- Build a better enterprise policy: It is important to create a smart corporate policy that can address all the critical problems that your business can face. You can create comprehensible and effective rules on the usage of third-party applications, cloud services, and personal devices. This will make sure that unauthorized users can’t access your enterprise network.
- Educate your employees: This is the most effective way to deal with shadow IT. You should educate your workers about the risks of unapproved applications. Most people don’t know about the possible consequences of using shadow IT. Thus, it is important to explain to them the risks associated with shadow IT applications.
- Shadow IT discovery tools: It is important to monitor your network for any detecting any unauthorized application. You can use various solutions to check if your employees are using any unauthorized cloud solution or application.
- Track your employee’s activities: There are various user activity monitoring applications available that can gather information about the web resources, applications, and tools that your employees are using. Thus, it will become easy to track shadow IT resources.
Maybe some applications can help you in getting your work done. But, there is no guarantee that they are safe to use. There are multiple applications available that have malware attached to them. Unless you are buying the application from a reputable vendor, there is no guarantee that the application is safe. If you are using applications then they can cause serious damage to your enterprise. It is important to teach your employees about the risks of using shadow IT resources. At Bleuwire, we have a team of expert professionals that will help you in creating an effective cybersecurity strategy.