Shadow IT is a problem that many administrators are well aware of. With the increasing number of devices on the network and appearances of new updates and services, the organizations being exposed to new devices without the organization’s knowledge are facing this risk now more than ever before.
Organizations are constantly looking for ways to deal with this problem. But first, let us look at what shadow IT is;
What is Shadow IT?
A shadow IT refers to a hardware or a software system that is not supported by the IT Infrastructure of the organization. This term has a negative connotation as this particular system enters the organization’s network without the approval of the IT department.
Complex infrastructures are developed constantly around the IT department without their knowledge. The common examples of shadow IT are SAAS products like Sales CRMs or cloud storage.
Employees fall prey to many software that offers to solve their problems faster and get results. For some, it is also a matter of comfort. Many a time many of the employees don’t even understand the shadow IT risk and hence look for an easier solution.
The unknown software within an organization can create security problems for the IT department. While some of the common problems include Lack of security, management problems, and uncontrollability, some more risky ones include data loss, vulnerability, and security issues.
While the above problems are more visceral IT problems, shadow IT risks can loom on businesses as well. Many employees although start using these shadow IT for supposedly increasing the efficiency they can reduce business efficiency and lead to further financial losses.
How to detect shadow IT?
Apart from knowing it from the employees themselves, there are several ways you can detect shadow IT.
- Network Monitoring: Continuous network monitoring can help you figure out new and unknown devices in your network.
- Cloud Monitoring: There are many services that offer this service you should definitely consider it as a cloud is a popular form of storage.
Now that we know what Shadow IT and how we can identify the threats, let us look at how we can mitigate the Shadow IT Risk.
- Company Policies
To start with, you can form guidelines and policies for the employees around the use of personal devices and networks. This can help the third party infrastructure penetrating within the network.
You can also restrict other networks and links on your system. This will completely stop the data exchange between third party applications. By taking these two measures, you can minimize data vulnerability.
- Employee Education
One of the most effective ways to reduce the effects of shadow IT is to give your employees the heads up about the perils of using these third party applications and how gravely they can harm the company’s system is important.
You will be surprised to find out how many people don’t know about the dangers of shadow IT. And hence, by explaining to them the reasons, not only will you save your monitoring costs but also help employees make informed decisions.
- Use Tools
Detecting the applications that are not approved by the IT team will help you take the necessary steps to minimize the problems in time.
- Give your employees the tools they need
Just like educating your employees can be helpful, similarly giving the employees the resources they need to work effectively in your organization will also help reduce shadow IT risk.
It also boils down to the type of culture you have in the company. If you allow employees to communicate their problems effectively, only then can they increase productivity? Also helping them by giving them tools will intern help improve employee satisfaction.
- Monitor Employee Activity
You might need to track basic network activities in case of extreme situations as a means of securing the company data. But apart from that knowing what the job of a particular employee is will help to provide them with the tools that would be beneficial for them.
Keeping a track of their activities, what they use to take notes, knowing what they refer to for inspiration, knowing where they like to discuss work matters with fellow employees helps you to give them these resources instead of them finding it on their own.
Shadow IT poses a security risk for many organizations. It can also be a reflection of an inefficient IT strategy for your company. By understanding what shadow IT and it can be eliminated using simple steps is the need for the hour in today’s time.