Shadow IT has long been seen as a threat to security and compliance, but nowadays, more businesses realize its advantages. Many IT software executives are questioning, "Is there a way to retain security while enhancing flexibility?" as cloud computing continues to consume a growing portion of their businesses' IT budgets. When done properly, a shadow IT policy may help both IT and the business at comfort. To do so, however, requires familiarity with its meaning, possible drawbacks, and potential beneﬁts.
What is shadow IT, and why?
The term "shadow IT" refers to the practice of using information technology resources, software, or applications in a business without the support of the IT or security team. It may involve both software and hardware, as well as cloud-based resources. The fast growth of cloud-based service usage is currently the biggest issue: as more people use it as much, increasing the phenomenon of "shadow IT ."Users have become accustomed to accessing and using cloud-based software and services for productivity applications or tools. The introduction of shadow IT into an organization can take a number of forms but usually takes place through one of two methods:
- Employing a third-party program to access, store, or distribute company information. Even if a corporation has officially sanctioned Google Workspace for file sharing, an employee may still introduce shadow IT by opting to use Microsoft 365 instead.
- Using a sanctioned resource illegally. In the same manner, even if an IT department has green-lighted the usage of Google Workspace through corporate-managed accounts, an employee may still bring in shadow IT by accessing Google Workspace using their own unmonitored account.
What is an example of shadow IT?
Usage of personal email accounts for company business, the use of unapproved Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), or the deployment of SaaS (Software as a service) services not managed by your company's IT team are all common examples of shadow IT. The following are more specific examples of shadow IT:
- Applications or tools for increasing productivity, including software like Trello and Asana.
- Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Chat are examples of messaging and collaboration apps.
- Mobile phone applications or tools, tablets, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
- Services and applications for storing data or transferring files in the cloud, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive software.
- Applications or tools for online meetings, including Zoom, Skype, WebEx, and GoToMeeting
- The appointment scheduling and management software or tools like Calendly, ScheduleOnce, and Bookafy.
What are the risks of using shadow IT?
Risks associated with shadow IT are also hidden in the shadows. Although employees may get their work done more quickly and easily with the help of shadow IT software tools or applications, this software or applications come with a variety of new dangers, inefficiencies, and expenses for the business.
Lost visibility and control
You lose oversight and management when data is moved to unofficial systems or applications. Shadow IT systems provide dangers such as security and regulatory noncompliance, data breaches, and the inability to take necessary disaster recovery actions regarding said data.
System integrations are a common feature of IT departments. Shadow IT software poses a risk of data breaches if any part of the integration is compromised. If users don't install critical software upgrades, the severity of this breach increases significantly. More likely that employees might not even know how to upgrade their tools.
When IT performs an upgrade on an integrated system, a previously unknown application or software may provide a backdoor for an attacker to access the whole database. Anywhere from major disruption to criminal charges for the chief information officer might result from such a breach.
Shadow cloud data might become inaccessible to businesses, especially if the individual who created the data leaves the company. User contracts, design documents, and other project applications or tools might be stored on a user's personal Dropbox account. It's possible that the company won't be able to recover essential customer data from the individual's personal account if the user is dismissed. When a user is terminated and no longer pays for Shadow IT software cloud services, it is easy to immediately deactivate such services or applications.
Nearly a third of all SaaS subscriptions or applications, by some estimates, are either unused or underutilized, leading to inefficiencies and wasted money. Some businesses who want to shore up their shadow IT software use inefficient manual methods, including using long spreadsheets to keep track of their SaaS services, which is a waste of time and money.
Unknown expansion of attack surfaces
With more shadow IT, there are more possibilities for an organization to be attacked. Unorganized database systems are not within the bounds of any known security protocol. Credentials that are either weak or the default risk exposing unmanaged assets to the Internet. Threat log management, security information, event management (SIEM) systems software, and penetration testing will not cover shadow IT.
Benefits of Shadow IT
However Shadow IT has its benefits too. Here are the main advantages of using Shadow IT:
Higher Level of Productivity
According to the findings of a poll conducted by Entrust Datacard, almost all workers increase their output when given the opportunity to utilize the technologies of their choice. In addition, the same poll found that 77% of IT software professionals felt that their companies might gain a competitive edge if executives were more collaborative about identifying solutions to problems using apps. When one gives careful consideration to the matter at hand, one realizes that these conclusions are not very shocking. For instance, you wouldn't anticipate a hairdresser to be able to get the same amount of work done with a regular pair of scissors as they could with a set of professional hairdressing scissors.
Innovation Trigger or Catalyst
When there are more people looking, it is simpler to identify tools that are more suited to the task at hand. Employees themselves are the greatest judges of which software and hardware solutions may be the most useful to them; hence, shadow IT makes perfect sense to let them use anything they want without requiring them to get permission from anybody beforehand. Therefore, it makes even more sense for management to thoroughly study the information technology software or apps that workers have started using on their own accord and explore the possibility of their formal adoption throughout the company. It is considerably more likely that the solution arrived at through this process will be closely linked with the initial business demand than the solution chosen directly by management.
Bringing in the Best and Brightest
Shadow IT is a form of information technology that can help businesses, particularly those operating in industries that rely heavily on information technology software, recruit and keep the best employees. Candidates for jobs who have a wealth of experience are always grateful when they are allowed to use that tools which work best for them rather than being forced to learn how to use an entirely different set of tools, which may or may not be out of date, simply because someone who came before them liked using them. Similarly, high-performing individuals are far more engaged and productive when they have access to the most cutting-edge IT software available, and they may even turn down higher compensation offers from competitors whose work environment isn't a good fit for them.
Minimizing the Demand for and Exposure to, Shadow IT
You may lessen the need for shadow IT, as well as the risks associated with it, by doing a few of the things that are listed above.
Communicate and cooperate
Find out what users of IT actually want. Bringing down the silos. Make it possible for IT departments and IT users to communicate in a way that is simple, comfortable, and efficient in order to have a better understanding of the real requirements, experiences, and comments of end-users on current and newly necessary technologies for example low-code/no-code platforms.
Train and educate
Informing users about the hazards associated with shadow IT software and how the company may assist in meeting the technological requirements without circumventing the usual governance rules is a very important step in mitigating these risks. Employees who are knowledgeable of security and share the organization's vision for information technology software security are more likely to grasp the risks related to shadow IT and will be encouraged to discover acceptable solutions to satisfy their technological demands.
The regular office structure is giving way to more flexible, remote, and hybrid options. The cloud helps this shift, but you'll still need to deal with some significant consequences. Shadow IT threats will remain a problem as long as SaaS services are driving your innovation.
But what if I tell you that you can solve all risks of Shadow IT by using low-code/no-code platforms? These platforms can be in control of the IT department, but they will also help create business tools required for employees. Imagine that you can build an appointment scheduling application, for instance, which totally fits your company's needs. And also, you wouldn't be afraid of all these risks of Shadow IT - because it would be developed and controlled by your IT department. AppMaster.io is one of the cutting-edge no-code platforms that will happily help you to create the best web and mobile applications for your business without the need to write any code.