The Security Risks Of Shadow IT And How To Avoid Them

Shadow IT refers to the use of technology tools, devices, and software that aren’t approved by the IT department in your company. Examples of shadow IT are productivity apps, creating cloud spaces using personal details, purchasing SaaS applications, or using communication apps.

Shadow IT Security Risks

Employees use shadow IT when they’re not satisfied with the systems established by their in-house IT department. For instance, if there’s a slow response to issues, they may turn to shadow IT to complete tasks. However, using these software may entail cybersecurity risks, leading to severe consequences like data breaches.

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate these risks. For example, you can use SASE secure connect to access all networks, software, and devices safely. This post will discuss the risks of using shadow IT and how to mitigate them. Read on to find out more.

Shadow IT Risks

Security risks may arise when employees use software and devices that aren’t monitored by the IT crew. Here are some of them:

  • Data Breaches

One of the major security risks associated with shadow IT is data breaches. When employees use unapproved networks and software, they bypass the security strategies implemented by the IT department. It leads to vulnerabilities that hackers can access, enabling them to distort sensitive data such as financial or customer details. For instance, if a team member uses unmonitored cloud services to store business information, hackers can quickly jark the service, as it doesn’t have tough security.

When employees use shadow IT, it becomes difficult for the IT team to monitor all operations. As a result, it becomes challenging for the IT team to detect and spot security breaches on time leading to data loss and distortion.

  • Compliance And Regulation Issues

Many industries have rules and regulations on how businesses should manage and protect their data. These laws prohibit companies from using unsanctioned networks and software. Therefore, when employees use these services, they may be at risk of disobeying specific regulations, attracting heavy fines and penalties.

For example, in the healthcare industry, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has strict rules about storing and sharing patient data. So, if workers use personal cloud services to store or transfer data, they defile HIPAA regulations, leading to severe consequences.

  • System Inefficiencies

When the IT team doesn’t provide enough resources, employees use unapproved software and applications, creating a chaotic IT environment. It makes managing the IT infrastructure challenging for the IT crew, leading to system inefficiencies. Shadow IT can also lead to overlapping systems.

For instance, if departments use different tools to perform tasks, it can create confusion and duplicated work. It can lead to delays and inefficiencies as employees try to correct the issues. Moreover, shadow IT tools and networks may not be compatible with the organization’s systems, leading to inefficiencies and delays.

  • Malware Infections

When employees use unsanctioned software, they may unknowingly install malware alongside it, as they don’t have the expertise to detect the warning signs. Malware is mainly hidden in software downloads and updates. Plus, when employees use shadow IT files, they may unknowingly share infected files, introducing malware to the organization’s network. Using unauthorized devices such as USB drives or telephones may also lead to malware infection.

How To Avoid Shadow IT Risks

To avoid the risks outlined above, organizations should implement the following strategies:

  • Educate Employees

One of the best ways to mitigate shadow IT risks is by training workers about them. Employees are your first line of defense against unsanctioned technology. Educate them on the consequences of using unapproved software and applications. By doing so, they can identify and report suspicious activities, preventing complications.

Employees Training

You can train employees in different ways. For one, you can organize regular training sessions for them to learn from IT experts. You can use real-life examples of security cases that resulted from shadow IT. The illustrations help them understand the consequences of shadow IT. Also, you can provide clear guidelines for which technology is approved and which isn’t.

  • Offer Enough Resources

To discourage the use of shadow IT, organizations can offer enough software, networks, tools, and devices for their employees. It reduces the use of shadow IT, thus eliminating their risks. However, the alternatives provided should be secure and compliant with regulatory requirements.

  • Create Policies

Businesses should develop policies and procedures for using technology tools, devices, and software. The guidelines should specify which technology is approved and which isn’t. It should also include the consequences for those who go against these policies. Doing so discourages employees from using unauthorized software and applications.

  • Invest In Monitoring and Detecting Devices

Companies should also invest in devices that can identify unapproved technology use. These devices help spot suspicious activities, thus preventing attacks that could otherwise cause damage.

The Bottom Line

The use of shadow IT has significantly increased over the years. Employees use it to improve the speed of their operations, increasing productivity. However, using unmanaged technology may pose security risks to any business. Fortunately, by implementing the measures outlined above, companies can avoid and eliminate shadow IT security risks.

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