Shadow IT is a catch-all term that includes any IT solution (i.e.: applications, software, devices, etc.) that’s not expressly approved by or known to your IT team. This often includes personal computers, smart phones and applications that your employees use on a regular basis to get their work done.

With the switch to remote work, shadow IT has grown significantly. The main area of concern today is the rapid adoption of cloud-based services. Some surveys estimate that there could be up to 730 cloud services going undetected. Many of these shadow services are being used with the best of intentions, employees are using the tools that help them be more productive. When employees don’t have to wait for IT approval, they’re more empowered to find a solution and implement it in real-time.

However, there is good shadow IT and bad shadow IT. Good shadow IT can help your employees be more happy and productive. Empowered users can quickly and easily get tools that make them more productive and help them interact efficiently with co-workers and partners.

Bad shadow IT can create cybersecurity loopholes in your business’ network. Serious security gaps may result when an IT department doesn’t know what services and applications are being adopted. “App sprawl,” wasted time and money, and collaboration inefficiencies are other common problems. By identifying good and bad shadow IT within your organization, you can give employees the innovation leeway they need to source their own solutions without putting your company at risk.

What can you do about shadow IT?

There is no need to ban shadow IT outright, shadow IT can be an opportunity to leverage employees to identify the applications they want to use so that IT can enable the ones that have gained traction and are enterprise-ready. You do need to know what is going on in your network. After auditing the risk of each shadow service and its security controls, your IT team can make informed choices about what services to promote or enable.

To respond to shadow IT, we recommend two strategies: Take strategic measures to reduce the need and the risk associated with shadow IT solutions; and establish policies and implement strategies that anticipate and manage shadow IT. After discovery identifies who is using shadow IT and what they are using it for, your IT team should make recommendations and come to an agreement about how the organization supports the unauthorized or prohibited software/service.

Done correctly, support for new technologies can create new opportunities for organizations to deliver better products into the market, faster, and through convenient efforts on the part of IT users at the workplace.

If you are concerned about shadow IT in your business, ACE IT Solutions can help. Contact us at 646.558.5575 or email and we can help determine what shadow cloud applications will be most useful for your team and which provide security risks.

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