Hackers love Shadow IT because it provides them with new opportunities to get at your firm’s data and private information. And because businesses tend not to know about the Shadow IT running in their organizations, defenses against hackers tend to be weaker or non-existent.
What is Shadow IT and Where Can It Be Found?
Shadow IT refers to all the applications and other technology used by an organization without the explicit approval of the organization’s IT Department. Shadow IT is problematic by definition, because organizations can’t build defenses around technology it doesn’t know is in use. According to Gartner, about 30 to 40% of the IT used in businesses today may be Shadow IT. In many cases, company leaders don’t know about its existence in the organization.
Why Does Shadow IT Exist in an Organization?
Often, Shadow IT is the result of workers’ attempts at finding their own solutions to business needs; this trend increased markedly with the pandemic and the sudden relocation to home offices. Workers had to devise solutions for chores previously handled in-office, such as file sharing and communicating.
But this trend created untold opportunities for hackers, since the adoption of cloud-based applications frequently skirted the firewalls and defenses organizations had relied upon to keep their data safe and secure.
Did you realize that even small businesses are using hundreds of business applications today? According to HIPAA Journal, the largest risk to security and compliance is human activity. Being aware of what’s going on in your business isn’t something you can choose to do or not; it’s something you have to do as soon as possible.
Any time an employee uses Shadow IT, that’s a potential backdoor for someone to get into your data.
The important thing is to realize what Shadow IT is and how you can manage the risks it can create for your firm, agency, or business.
The Most Common Forms of Shadow IT
Shadow IT is software used by employees that a company isn’t aware of. While this software can be of any kind, some varieties are more common than others.
Here are the four most common types of Shadow IT that might be used by your company’s employees right now:
- Communication Systems – Communication systems include chat applications; these are often kept open-and-running on workers’ laptops all day long. They’re an easy target for a determined hacker and can introduce backdoors into your data.
- File Sharing Software – Almost all businesses will run into this form of Shadow IT. Applications such as Google Drive and Dropbox are common examples and favorites of remote-office workers. When files are uploaded to a third-party tool such as these, there’s always a chance of a breach.
- Productivity Tools – Everyone wants to be efficient, which means these applications are common. You could find your company using dozens of them in a short period.
- Third-Party Business Software – While not cited as often, employees sometimes use third-party software to assist in their job. Think about signing contracts online or emailing sensitive documents as attachments — as innocent as this behavior may seem, it represents a huge security lapse.
Know Where Your Data Is Stored
According to Statista, more than 50% of corporate data traffic takes place in cloud applications. This is why it’s important to have data protection and a way to manage and be aware of Shadow IT that can break down your security and leave you open to cyber breaches. If you don’t know where all the data is, it’s something you need to find out. If you haven’t reviewed software adoption in the last year, this might be a good time to do so. You can also bring in a professional to handle the process for you.
Do you think there’s no Shadow IT at your organization? Think again! The first step is to understand that Shadow IT is out there and people are using it. Since it’s a challenging issue, it’s best to do something about it now. Working with a proactive managed IT services company will give you the solution you need.