Shadow IT has been a growing problem for years, especially as more and more employees are working remotely. While shadow IT can improve employee productivity and drive innovation, it can also introduce serious security risks to your organization through data leaks, potential compliance violations, and more.

Shadow IT is the use of information technology systems, devices, software, applications, and services without explicit IT department approval. If your IT department doesn’t know about software that exists within the corporate network, they can’t check whether it’s safe to use and ensure that corporate assets are secured. This lack of control over the solutions used within the corporate network can expand attack surfaces.

Shadow IT isn’t all inherently dangerous, but certain features like file sharing/storage and collaboration (e.g., Google Docs, DropBox and other cloud-based applications) can result in sensitive data leaks.

Many workers deploy cloud apps in the corporate environment with the best of intentions. They’ve discovered an app that works great and they use it and share it with colleagues. But it’s not approved by the IT security people because they haven’t been told about it.

If you’re in a highly regulated industry like medical or financial services, shadow IT introduces the risk of violating data privacy laws. If you’re audited, you could end up facing large fines, not to mention legal fees and bad PR. 

Not all cloud apps are bad, but you (and your IT partner) need to at least be aware of these applications to determine if they’re a threat to security or a violation of data privacy laws, and simply to keep your confidential information.

Shadow IT isn’t going away, organizations can minimize risk by educating end users and taking preventative measures to monitor and manage unsanctioned applications.

How to handle shadow IT:

1. Define major risks posed by shadow IT and address them. 

2. Encourage employees to be transparent about what software they use. 

3. Educate employees on the possible consequences of using untrusted software. 

4. Ensure that your IT department considers solutions that are both secure and convenient. 

ACE IT Solutions is constantly monitoring our clients’ networks for new and unknown software or devices. We help you govern the shadow IT cloud apps and services your people use by offering a centralized view of your cloud environment. We also provide automated access controls to and from cloud services based on cloud service risk scores and other parameters, such as app category and data permissions.

Contact us at 646.558.5575 or if you are concerned about Shadow IT and its risks.

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