Shadow IT: Why it’s dangerous and how you can protect your business against it

Shadow IT: Why it’s dangerous and how you can protect your business against it

Shadow IT, or the use of technology within a company without the approval or knowledge of the IT department, is increasingly becoming a problem for businesses. The proliferation of cloud services, coupled with the rise of remote work, has made it easier than ever for employees to use outside applications without their employer’s knowledge or consent. This has led to a host of security, privacy, and legal risks.

In this blog, we look into the many ways shadow IT can harm your organization and what you need to do to protect your business against such risks.

How can shadow IT be dangerous for businesses?

When employees start using unsanctioned software and devices, it can quickly become a dangerous situation for your business. Here are some ways shadow IT becomes a threat:

Security risks

Unauthorized software or applications may not have the same level of security measures as the company's approved technology, making them more vulnerable to cyberthreats such as hacking and malware.

Compliance issues

Using unauthorized software may lead to compliance issues with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This can result in legal liabilities and financial penalties for the business.

Cost inefficiencies

Shadow IT can increase costs for the company, as it may require additional resources to support, maintain, and integrate with the existing IT infrastructure. It can also result in duplication of efforts or wasted resources, as different employees or departments may use various software to accomplish the same tasks.

Loss of control

Employees using a myriad of unauthorized software can lead to a lack of control and oversight of the company's IT infrastructure, making it challenging for the IT department to monitor, manage, and troubleshoot issues.

Operational bottlenecks

Because shadow IT may not be integrated with the company's existing IT infrastructure, it can cause data silos and fragmented systems that can affect productivity, communication, and collaboration across different departments.

How can businesses mitigate the risks of shadow IT?

It’s important for companies to understand why employees use shadow IT. This way, they can address the underlying issues and provide solutions that meet both the needs of the employees and the company's IT policies.

For instance, businesses should encourage open communication between employees and the IT department. By doing so, IT staff may be able to address any needs or issues that arise, eliminating the need for employees to turn to shadow IT to solve IT problems on their own.

Companies should also make sure employees have access to the right software and applications necessary to do their work. This reduces the likelihood of employees using shadow IT to improve their efficiency and productivity.

However, businesses should also be aware that employees may use shadow IT for something that’s not related to their work. This is where establishing clear policies on the use of IT systems, software, and applications comes in. These policies should outline the approved software and applications that can be used for work and should be clearly communicated to all employees. Keep in mind that setting rigid IT policies can’t accommodate employees’ changing needs and will only push them to use shadow IT to bypass such policies.

Another way to minimize shadow IT is to educate employees on the risks associated with its use, including those related to cybersecurity and compliance. And to ensure that only authorized software or applications are used, companies should monitor network traffic.

Partnering with a trusted managed IT services provider (MSP) like XBASE Technologies can help your business effectively mitigate shadow IT risks. An MSP can provide you with the expertise, resources, and support needed to manage your entire IT infrastructure, which includes minimizing or eliminating unauthorized technology.

Contact XBASE Technologies today to learn more about how our services can help you mitigate the risks of shadow IT and improve the efficiency and security of your IT infrastructure.