Shadow IT refers to the use of any technology, such as apps and systems, without the knowledge of or explicit approval from the IT department. These unauthorized technologies have always been a threat to business security, but the recent shift to remote work arrangements has turned them into an even bigger concern.
Away from the scrutiny of IT staff, remote workers can use any tech solutions that they wish, even if these can compromise data protection or compliance. Some remote employees, for instance, store company data in their relatively less secure personal accounts or devices. Needless to say, it’s critical to control — if not completely eradicate — shadow IT. The first step in doing so is to take these proactive measures:
1. Assess technology solutions and reclassify them if necessary
Your employees may be using shadow IT because your organization has restrictive rules that classify necessary technology as forbidden. Review your IT policy and evaluate whether some of the shadow IT your employees are using are vital to operations and can be sanctioned. Your teams may be using messaging, conferencing, or large file transfer solutions that are critical in getting their daily tasks done. If those solutions are helping your workforce, then you shouldn’t stop your staff from leveraging such tools. Instead, look into how you can keep those technologies secure.
2. Establish a clear shadow IT policy
Employees may use unsanctioned technology simply because they don’t know that it’s prohibited to do so. Some may also be unaware of the danger that shadow IT poses. This is why it’s critical that you establish a policy that defines shadow IT and explains the damage it can cost your company. Communicate your shadow IT policy to your entire organization, and explicitly state the repercussions of not following the rules.
What’s more, it’s a good idea to include shadow IT topics in your employee security awareness training or onboarding. Educating your staff on which devices, systems, and software should not be used, as well as the reason why these are forbidden, can prevent them from using unapproved technology.
3. Improve visibility
Shedding light into shadow IT requires deep network visibility. Apart from being able to control which apps employees can install on company-issued devices, you must also have a list of all the applications and services operating in your systems. This allows you to eliminate guesswork in identifying unauthorized application usage. To gain such visibility, implement solutions that will detect and catalog all software running in your organization.
Partnering with an IT expert like HERO Managed Services is another good place to start. Our specialists can help you deploy various network visibility solutions that can integrate compliance, advanced controls, analytics, and more from a single dashboard.
4. Fill in the technology gaps
Discover why your employees use shadow IT. Oftentimes, users turn to unsanctioned tech because the current solutions are not working for them. By analyzing what shadow IT your employees use and what they use these tools for, you can identify secure alternatives that drive your staff’s productivity. This will then enable you to create a long-term plan that addresses the functionality gaps between your chosen technology and what your employees truly need.
Shadow IT can best be eliminated when you implement the right solutions. HERO Managed Services can guide you in strategizing and implementing technologies that meet your business needs. We offer expert advice that will help you craft a technology roadmap that prepares you for the future. We can also assist in managing your technology, so you can gain better operational visibility, optimized systems, and streamlined processes. Get a FREE consultation now.