“Shadow IT” refers to the use of IT hardware, software, devices, services, and systems without explicit organizational approval. This could range from an employee using a personal laptop for work to a team deploying an unsanctioned cloud storage solution. These may seem harmless at first, but they can pose serious security risks.
Why is Shadow IT a Concern?
Shadow IT introduces potential vulnerabilities into your system. For example, if an employee uses an unsecured personal device to access sensitive company data, it could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Additionally, unsanctioned software might not follow the same security protocols, leaving the door open for hackers.
How is Shadow IT Identified?
Spotting Shadow IT can be tricky because, by its nature, it flies under the radar. However, there are ways to detect it:
- IT Audits: Regular audits can help identify unauthorized software or hardware in use. This could involve monitoring network traffic, examining system logs, or physical checks of devices.
- ASM Tools: Attack Surface Management (ASM) tools can also help identify Shadow IT. They continuously monitor your digital footprint, helping to uncover unsanctioned IT resources.
- Employee Surveys: Sometimes, the simplest way is to ask. Employees may not realize they’re contributing to Shadow IT, and open discussions can help unearth the extent of it.
Tackling Shadow IT
Addressing Shadow IT involves a mix of policy, technology, and culture change. Here are a few strategies:
- Implement Clear IT Policies: Make sure all employees are aware of what constitutes acceptable IT practices. Define what software and devices are allowed, and make sure these policies are communicated clearly.
- Offer Approved Alternatives: Often, employees resort to Shadow IT because they find the approved tools inadequate. By providing robust, user-friendly alternatives, you can reduce the temptation to turn to unapproved solutions.
- Increase IT Awareness: Regular training can ensure employees understand the risks associated with Shadow IT and the importance of adhering to IT policies.
Shadow IT may be lurking unseen in your organization, but with the right tools and strategies, you can bring it into the light and ensure your business remains secure.