The advent of cloud computing has facilitated the ability of IT end users to sidestep traditional IT procurement procedures and gain access to the tools need to do their jobs. Info tech (IT) supervision and severe governance standards are typically developed with the institution’s security in mind, rather than the needs of individual users.
As a result, "Shadow IT" has emerged as a strategy for gaining access to the necessary IT solutions outside of the purview of the official IT department. The concept of it and its implications for IT management are discussed in this article.
Shadow IT definition
It means any system or IT material utilized on a business network without IT clearance and typically without IT awareness or supervision. It includes using Dropbox or thumb drives to store work files, meeting on Skype instead of WebEx, and forming a group Slack without IT’s endorsement.
It excludes viruses and other hacker-planted assets. Only network-authorized end users' unofficial assets are covered.
End users and teams utilize shadow IT because they can use it without IT’s consent or because they think it's exceptional for their needs. Notwithstanding these advantages, it poses considerable security threats. The team doesn't monitor shadow IT assets or address their risks because it's ignorant of them. It is vulnerable to hackers. Randori's State of Attack Surface Management 2022 report found that roughly 7 in 10 enterprises were damaged by Shadow IT last year.
Why Is Shadow IT Being Used by Employees?
Efficiency gains are a primary motivator for workforces to use shadow IT. 35% of workers in 2012 RSA research said, they felt they had to bypass security measures in order to accomplish their jobs. For instance, a worker may discover a superior file-sharing programs than that which is officially sanctioned. There's a chance that once they start using it, everyone in their group will eventually go on board.
The rising use of this danger has been linked to the proliferation of cloud-based consumer apps. The era of pre-packaged software is long gone, replaced by instantaneous access to industry standards like Slack and Dropbox. It also includes BYOD practices, in which teams use their own smartphones or computers rather than company-issued ones for work.
IT Devices Security Risks
It has many advantages, but businesses must not ignore the threat posed by the use of unapproved software, hardware, or networks, as any of these might be exploited by cybercriminals. Shadow IT risks poses a growing risk to enterprises, which is why it must be contained. Potential dangers include:
Observability and Management
You can't defend against what you can't see, as the old adage goes.
Shadow IT, by its very nature, exists outside the purview of IT safety, which means that susceptibilities, misconfigurations, and policy violations are more likely to go undiscovered.
User self-rapid provisioning's expansion may be advantageous to throughput, but it comes with security risks. To boost agility without sacrificing visibility, businesses might benefit from decentralizing the authority to deliver resources.
Another difficulty with shadow IT is that company-wide access to data or other assets housed in personal accounts is restricted. If an employee resigns or is terminated, they may retain access to cloud-based assets, but the business may lose access.
Another significant factor is that shadow IT is not governed by business policies and processes. This may indicate that cloud-based data is not backed up, preserved, or encoded in accordance with corporate policy.
Expanding Assault Surface
While data loss is a significant worry for businesses, data theft may pose an even greater threat.
Each instance of shadow IT increases the organization's attack surface. These assets are not protected by the organization's cybersecurity solutions, such as endpoint detection and response (EDR), next-generation antivirus (NGAV), and hazard intelligence services, because shadow IT is not visible to the IT or cybersecurity team.
Additionally, its services are frequently constructed using weak or default credentials or may be prone to system failures, all of which can be abused by attackers to gain access to the institution's broader corporate network.
It complicates everything. When a company doesn't give workers enough resources to execute their jobs and they self-provision, the company is less likely to invest in infrastructure, new skills, or procedures.
It also lacks a data source. Data analysis and reporting may be erroneous, inconsistent, or incomplete. This can lower data quality and cause compliance concerns.
It often helps employees cut expenditures. Long-term or business-wide adoption of such services may not be cost-effective. A personal cloud storage service (Virtual Cloud or Hybrid Cloud) expanded to suit an enterprise account is prohibitively expensive compared to corporate-focused offerings.
It costs indirectly through noncompliance fines and penalties, reputational damage from a breach, and timely and intense IT support for service migration or deprovisioning.
Examples of Shadow IT
Unapproved third-party software, applications, and services are likely the most ubiquitous Shadow IT examples. Typical examples include:
Productivity applications including Trello and Asana
Dropbox, Google Docs, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive are cloud storage, file-sharing, and manuscript programs.
Interaction and networking applications such as Skype, Slack, WhatsApp, Zoom, Signal, and Telegram, in addition to personal email accounts.
Teams may swiftly adopt these cloud services and SaaS offerings since they are easy to use, free, or inexpensive. Employees bring shadow IT apps to work since they use them at home. Customers, partners, and service providers may encourage employees to use these services, such as joining productivity apps to collaborate on projects.
It also comes from employees' smartphones, laptops, and packing devices like USB drives and external hard drives. Under a BYOD program, employees can use personal devices to access, store, or transmit grid resources remotely or on-premises. Traditional asset supervision systems struggle to find, monitor, and supervise these devices.
Benefits Of Shadow IT
Productivity and teamwork both gain greatly from Shadow IT policy. The leaders of companies recognize that their employees' creativity is essential to developing a culture of speed, agility, adaptability, and invention.
This benefit of shadow IT can be utilized by network administrators to protect financial accounts by
Eliminating bottlenecks in the technology acquisition process by streamlining the process
Maintaining access permissions on the system with the aid of security tools
Having a solution in place that keeps tabs on all data transfers, whether to approved or unauthorized apps, is crucial.
Making workers aware of the dangers of Shadow IT cyber security.
Developing productive approaches to dealing with this danger is one way to boost productivity while simultaneously enhancing the privacy of an organization.
Managing The Risks of Shadow IT
Rather than workers, it is the company itself that must take on the task of eliminating instances of this danger. In order to keep their employees happy, businesses need to learn about and meet their demands, as well as streamline the approval and provisioning procedure.
It's certain that even the most progressive companies will have some instances of Shadow IT. So, companies need to figure out how to reliably recognize such instances and handle the associated risk. The following are some measures that companies can take to lessen the impact by implementing Shadow IT monitoring:
With extensive and regular audits of the entire business, it is possible to identify the organizational and team requirements.
Use cutting-edge technology to uninterruptedly monitor the network so that all devices, apps, and systems are visible and under control.
Communicate, coordinate, and train all personnel on the safe and secure use of all tools and technologies, as well as the supply of a new service.
Develop and implement a security posture, policies, and compliance.
Provide a strategy for assessing risks and prioritizing corrective actions.
How can organizations address the root causes of Shadow IT?
To address the root causes of Shadow IT, organizations can engage in regular communication with employees to understand their needs and preferences, provide training and education on IT policies and approved tools, and regularly evaluate and update their IT infrastructure to ensure it meets the needs of employees.
How can organizations prevent Shadow IT?
Organizations can prevent Shadow IT by establishing clear policies and guidelines around technology and software usage, providing employees with approved tools and applications, and enforcing consequences for violating policies. IT departments can also monitor network traffic and application usage to detect any unauthorized activity.
What are some common examples of Shadow IT?
Common examples of Shadow IT include the use of personal smartphones and tablets for work purposes, the use of personal cloud storage services, and the use of unauthorized software or applications.
Why is Shadow IT a concern for organizations?
Shadow IT poses several concerns for organizations, including security risks, data breaches, and regulatory compliance issues. The use of unauthorized technology and software can also lead to poor integration and inefficiencies in the workplace.
What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT refers to any technology or software used within an organization that is not approved, sanctioned, or supported by the IT department. This can include anything from personal smartphones and cloud storage services to unauthorized software and applications.