What is Shadow IT?

Cloud computing has made it simpler for IT users to go around IT procurement procedures and get the solutions they need to complete their tasks. IT supervision and tight governance standards are frequently created to protect the corporation rather than to address the difficulties that IT users face at work. Shadow IT is the practice of circumventing these restrictions and gaining access to necessary IT solutions without the knowledge of the proper IT department.

Shadow IT is the use of technology infrastructure, devices, software, applications, and services without explicit IT department permission. With the availability of cloud-based apps and services, it has risen at an exponential rate in recent years.

While shadow IT can boost employee productivity and encourage creativity, it can also put your company in danger of data breaches, compliance violations, and other security issues.

Why Adopt Shadow IT?

Following are some of the reasons to adopt Shadow IT −

Shadow IT is Unavoidable

IT users only utilize shadow IT to meet their job needs in a way that makes their lives simpler. According to Gartner research, shadow IT expenditure accounts for 30-40% of all purchases in the organization. According to Everest Group's analysis, these rates are closer to 50%.

Companies are responsible for a portion of the problem

  • Not providing appropriate support for IT users' preferred technologies.

  • The governance, approval, and provisioning processes are inefficient and sluggish.

  • Especially for firms that are driven by Agile or DevOps with a focus on continuous innovation and quick software development and delivery cycles, the need for new technology might develop with little warning for IT departments to discover, assess, and approve the items.

Inadequate Communication and Coordination

Inadequate communication and coordination between developers and IT teams stifle the speed and flexibility of IT assistance needed to approve the requisite technologies. Inadequate security capabilities, on the other hand, tend to impede businesses from authorizing new technologies, even when they wish to provide developers with the most cutting-edge solutions available.

IT Security Threats and Challenges in the Dark

The bottom line is that if IT is unaware of an application, it cannot be supported or secured. According Gartner, a market research group, it was expected that by 2020, one-third of all successful assaults against businesses will be on their shadow IT resources. While shadow IT is unavoidable, businesses may reduce risk by educating end-users and implementing preventative steps to monitor and control unapproved apps.

Although not all aspects of IT are inherently harmful, some capabilities such as file-sharing/storage and collaboration (e.g., Google Docs) can lead to critical data leaks. This danger isn't limited to applications—According to the RSA survey, 63 percent of workers who work from home transfer business documents to their personal email, exposing data to networks that aren't regulated by IT. In addition to security problems, shadow IT can lose money if various departments purchase duplicate solutions without realizing it.

What Do the Various Parts of Shadow IT Entail?

Shadow IT refers to any IT-related operations and purchases that aren't handled by the IT department. These purchases might include the following −

  • Servers, PCs, laptops, tablets, and cellphones are examples of hardware.

  • Software that has been packaged and sold off the shelf.

  • Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) are examples of cloud services (PaaS).

Risks of Shadow IT

Even though shadow IT has various advantages, the dangers associated with it, if not effectively managed, might negate some of those advantages. Following are some of the dangers −

  • Inconsistent data and data loss

  • Concerns about adherence

  • There would be less downtime, and fewer security measures will be necessary.

  • Data Loss and Data Inconsistency

You might give up some control over how your data is managed if you use shadow IT. This is true for both cloud-based apps and those used in physical locations. Individual users may make critical errors when deciding how to manage and secure business data. The input and outflow of data may be strictly regulated when all cloud security is managed by an IT team, for example.

Individual workers may be accountable for providing statistics on crucial issues such as IT security or productivity while using shadow IT. This could lead to discrepancies, making it harder to track and respond to data that would otherwise be easily available and provided regularly if an IT team was in charge.

Issues with Compliance

The compliance landscape is prone to unanticipated, even abrupt, shifts. Compliance concerns may go neglected because shadow IT gives power to individual workers, who are frequently busy or concerned with other vital tasks. New laws governing how to adhere to companywide standards, as well as directions issued by government officials, might easily be overlooked by someone who is preoccupied with achieving other goals.

Lesser Downtime and Fewer Security Measures

If something goes wrong with shadow IT, the amount of downtime might be worsened by the user's inexperience. When an employee has a problem, it might take many hours for them to resolve it. A skilled IT specialist with experience dealing with that sort of situation, on the other hand, would only need a few minutes to solve the problem.

How to Reduce Risks Associated with Shadow IT?

Here are some steps which may reduce the need for (and hazards associated with) shadow IT −

Collaborate and Communicate

Learn about the requirements of IT users. Dismantle the barriers. Allow for quick, comfortable, and efficient communication between IT departments and IT users in order to gain a better understanding of end-user demands, experiences, and comments on existing and new technologies.

Educate and Train Employees

Inform users about the dangers of shadow IT and how the business may help them meet their IT needs without having to violate regular governance standards.

Employees who are security-conscious and embrace the organization's IT security vision are more likely to grasp the hazards of shadow IT and will be encouraged to find acceptable solutions to their technological demands.

Streamline the Governance Process

Develop an IT governance system that encourages innovation by allowing new technologies to be quickly discovered, vetted, accessible, and provisioned for IT users. Create regulations that are user-centric and anticipate their needs. Maintain a balance between policy enforcement and the ability to grow and respond to end-user IT demands.

Find More Information on Shadow IT

Monitor unusual network activity, unexpected transactions, data and workload transfers, IT usage trends, and other signs of shadow IT practices using technological solutions.

Proactive Discovery Helps Manage Shadow IT Threats

You can find certain shadow IT instances by looking through on-premises web filtering logs and configuration management databases. Working with Accounting to identify unusual IT-related purchases may also aid in the discovery of shadow IT.

Risks to Be Assessed and Mitigated

Not all shadow IT technologies are equally dangerous. Continuous evaluation of workplace technology can help firms develop risk mitigation efforts based on the risk sensitivity of each shadow IT crime.

You might give up some control over how your data is managed if you use shadow IT. This is true for both cloud-based apps and those used in physical locations. Individual users may make critical errors when deciding how to manage and secure business data. For example, the input and outflow of data may be strictly regulated when all cloud security is managed by an IT team.