How to Manage Shadow IT
May 15, 2023
Understanding Shadow IT
Are you ready to uncover the tech secrets lurking within your organization? It's all about shadow IT – like a covert operation happening right under your nose, with employees using unsanctioned software, cloud services, and personal devices to get their work done faster and easier.
According to a recent McAfee survey, 80% of employees admit to using non-approved SaaS applications at their work. While shadow IT may seem harmless at first glance, the truth is that it poses a significant threat to your business.
With data breaches, security vulnerabilities, and compliance issues rising, it's time to shine a light on shadow IT.
Our guide aims to provide IT teams and businesses with practical strategies to minimize security risks. By proactively doing so, organizations can ensure that their technology infrastructure is safe, compliant, and aligned with their business goals.
Let's get started with getting your IT under control.
So, what is shadow IT?
This term refers to the use of technology solutions and services within an organization without the knowledge or approval of the IT department. This can include unauthorized software, cloud services, mobile apps, and other tools employees use to complete their work.
Common examples of shadow IT include sharing and storing files using personal accounts, messaging apps, or even employees using their mobile devices to access company data.
Employees use shadow IT because they find the company-approved tools and corporate devices too complicated or slow, often difficult file-sharing solutions, or they may not even know about these programs in the first place.
They may also use shadow IT to bypass IT restrictions or to gain access to tools they believe will help them be more productive.
Should you Embrace Shadow IT?
At first glance, accepting shadow IT in your organization might seem like a good idea. After all, your employees want the flexibility and freedom to choose the tools they use to complete their work, right?
But before you jump on board the shadow IT train, you should consider the potential downside. Allowing shadow IT to run rampant in your organization could put your company at serious risk.
This is because you are allowing your employees to access sensitive data using unauthorized tools. These risks can be expensive and damaging to your bottom line and reputation.
Plus, if you don't give your employees the tools and resources they need to do their jobs effectively, you might be causing more harm than good. Frustration and decreased productivity can lead to reduced job satisfaction, high turnover rates, and burnout.
Why Should You Avoid Shadow IT?
It may seem tempting for many team members to secretly indulge in the latest unsanctioned software or cloud service, but the consequences can be severe.
Let's take a closer look at why you should detect users engaging in shadow IT at all costs:
Security Risks: Over 80% of small and medium-sized businesses have been hacked due to poor data security. Without proper oversight and monitoring, employees could be accessing and sharing sensitive corporate data through unsecured channels, putting your organization at risk of cyberattacks, data theft, and other security threats.
Compliance Risks: Depending on your industry, regulatory requirements may dictate how you handle data. Shadow IT can make ensuring compliance with these regulations challenging, exposing your organization to fines, penalties, and reputational damage.
Operational Risks: Using unsanctioned software or tools can lead to operational inefficiencies, such as duplication of effort, data silos, and inconsistent processes. This can impact your organization's productivity, hinder collaboration, and ultimately hurt your bottom line.
Financial Risks: Shadow IT can also lead to unexpected costs, such as subscription fees, maintenance expenses, and licensing fees. These costs can add up quickly and strain your organization's budget.
While shadow IT may seem like a quick fix to get work done, the risks far outweigh the benefits. By detecting shadow IT tactics and sticking to approved software and tools, you can protect your organization and avoid unexpected costs.
Uncovering Shadow IT Tactics
Picture this: a group of employees huddled around a laptop, secretly installing unauthorized software that promises to make their jobs easier. Unfortunately, tactics such as this are all too common.
So how do you discover shadow IT within your organization? Here are some ways to do it:
Monitor network traffic: Keep an eye on your network traffic for any unusual activity, such as unauthorized access to cloud services. This can help you identify the use of Shadow IT tools and services.
Review access logs: Look at your access logs to see if there are any unauthorized login attempts or suspicious activity. This can help you identify employees using shadow IT tools or services.
Conduct surveys and interviews: Ask your employees about the tools they're using and why. This can help you understand what's driving the use of shadow IT so you can identify security risks and develop better software for the company.
Use a shadow IT discovery tool: Use powerful shadow IT discovery tools like Admina, the cloud-based platform for maximizing SaaS usage and controlling costs. By uncovering Shadow IT across ERPs, accounting software, and browser extensions, Admina helps organizations make informed technology decisions.
Shadow IT may seem convenient for employees to get their work done, but it can lead to serious risks for your organization. Detecting shadow IT tactics within your organization is crucial to preventing their use and protecting your organization from potential security risks.
Developing a Shadow IT Management Plan
Now that you have successfully uncovered shadow IT tactics within your organization, it's time to develop a shadow IT management plan that can help you address the problem and prevent its use in the future.
This plan should incorporate various strategies to ensure your organization's data and systems remain secure, while still allowing for innovation and flexibility within your team.
Here are the four critical steps to developing an effective Shadow IT management plan:
Form a Shadow IT Taskforce
The first step is to form security teams to manage shadow IT. This team should comprise members from different IT, security, finance, and legal departments. The task force should identify and address shadow IT and ensure security and compliance within the organization.
Establish Policies and Procedures
Identifying shadow IT practices is as important as establishing clear policies and procedures to deal with them. These policies should define what shadow IT is, how it should be reported, and what actions will be taken to prevent its use.
The procedures should outline how shadow IT incidents will be handled and how they will work with the affected employees to find alternatives.
Implement Tools and Technologies
By using the most suitable resources, you can help prevent shadow IT from occurring in the first place. These tools can include shadow IT discovery tools, endpoint protection software, and cloud access security brokers (CASBs).
With these new technologies and devices, you can detect shadow IT early and prevent it from causing any damage.
Measuring the Success of Your Shadow IT Management Plan
You've worked hard to develop a shadow IT management plan, but how do you know if it's actually effective? Measuring success and evaluating your plan is crucial to ensuring the ongoing effectiveness of your efforts.
Let's look at three key steps to help you measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your shadow IT management plan:
Identify Key Performance Indicators
The first step in measuring success is identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) for your management plan. These KPIs should be specific, measurable, and tied to your goals for managing Shadow IT.
For example, you might measure the number of shadow IT incidents reported, the time it takes to resolve them, or the percentage of employees who have completed shadow IT training.
Regular Auditing and Assessment
Once you've identified your KPIs, you can conduct regular auditing and assessments to measure progress toward your goals. This can include reviewing incident reports, surveying employees, and analyzing data. With this, you can identify areas for improvement and adjust your shadow IT management plan as needed.
Continuously Improve Your Shadow IT Management Plan
Consistent improvement should be part of your shadow IT management plan. This may include updating policies and procedures, enhancing employee training, or implementing better-suited tools and technologies.
By continuously improving your management plan, you can stay ahead of emerging shadow IT tactics and keep your organization secure.
Tips for Managing Shadow IT
Managing shadow IT can be complex and challenging. However, you can keep your organization secure and productive with the right strategies.
Educate Your Employees
One of the main drivers of shadow IT is a lack of awareness among employees about the dangers it poses to the organization. Training should cover the potential risks associated with shadow IT to prevent a possible data breach and emphasize the importance of following approved processes for technology adoption.
By educating your employees, you can help to create a culture of security and compliance within your organization.
Give Your Employees the Tools They Need
A key aspect of managing shadow IT is giving employees the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. This includes providing them with access to approved apps and services, as well as training them on how to use these tools effectively.
Provide Accessible Self-service Portals
Providing easy access to self-service portals can be an effective way to manage shadow IT.
By giving your employees easy access to a corporate network of approved apps and services, you can help to reduce the temptation to use non-approved software. This can also help streamline your IT support processes and reduce staff burden.
Don't Forget the Security Basics
When managing shadow IT, it's critical not to overlook the security fundamentals. This includes implementing strong password policies, using multi-factor authentication, and keeping your systems and software updated with the latest security patches and updates.
Managing shadow IT in your organization certainly poses many challenges, but with our guide's strategies and a strong management plan, you can minimize risks and keep your company safe.
And if you're looking for an all-in-one tool to help you manage your SaaS apps and detect shadow IT, Admina is definitely worth checking out. With its cloud-based platform, you can optimize your app usage, increase productivity, and stay on top of your expenses.
If you're ready to take the next step in managing shadow IT, go ahead and schedule a free demo with Admina today. Our team is here to show you all the benefits and answer any questions you might have.
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