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Understanding Shadow IT

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Understanding Shadow IT


Unauthorized software and how it affects your business

When using IT for your business one of the common mistakes that is made is adding IT solutions based on your immediate needs. Inherently, when your business grows the obstacles are numerous and dynamic, so planning your IT structure usually is not at the highest priority but it should be. Shadow IT is that knee jerk need for employees to use whatever technology is available to them to solve the current problem without regard to the overall security and integrity of your IT structure. Whether you have in-house IT technicians or you utilize managed IT services from MyTek, having a plan and controlling what technology you use is critical to your IT structure.

We get it, actually planning your IT structure and having it managed properly is hard. That’s why we are here! But let’s go into why Shadow IT harms your business.

Why Shadow IT Hurts Your Business

Unauthorized software is a huge headache for any IT manager. The biggest reason why is that as much as 34% of successful attacks will utilize a Shadow IT avenue to compromise your business’s data security. Not all Shadow IT is dangerous, but one of the biggest features that is used is file sharing and storage, for instance using a Google drive, and is a common practice but can ultimately lead to a massive data leak.

Another route that this takes is employees sending files to their personal email, and it happens a lot. It often takes very little effort for a nefarious actor to hack into a personal email, so this is something that needs to be addressed procedurally from the onset. We as humans try to take the easiest route but vigilance is absolutely key here to protect your business’s data and your customer’s. But what are the benefits of Shadow IT?

Shadow IT Benefits

The main benefit of Shadow IT is its inherent nature of reactivity. Being able to solve problems on the fly is a very appealing feature in any business, especially if it is an enterprise level organization that naturally breeds bureaucracy that slows everything down. Being able to circumnavigate such issues makes a department more productive and thus making them more productive. Also many employees feel that they have to get around a security measure just to do their job, this is more of an endemic problem of a not properly managed IT structure where the responsible parties for IT are not comprehensive or responsive. 

Believe it or not it also allows for innovation within an organization. This usually happens at the developer level when they are trying to solve a problem, especially when they are dealing with legacy systems or out of date applications. The problem here is while it may solve the immediate problem, rarely is the security of the application taken into account for how it will interact with the overall IT structure of your organization. This is where managed IT is essential, if a new solution arises then it needs to be presented to the manager to properly integrate it into the overall system properly.

So how do we Solve this Problem?

The short answer here is to have a responsive and comprehensive managed IT solution with either an internal department or external department, but let’s break it down:

  • Consolidate applications whenever you can – Nearly all companies need a solution to manage finances, draft documents, manage inventory and much more. Centralizing processes can often handle multiple issues and you can use Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps. Making your software (and the data it produces) significantly easier to manage.
  • Vigilantly monitor user’s activity – Asses what your employees upload, download, and share and how they do it. Enforce policies to stop risky app activity by eliminating the “upload” or “share” functions in the applications your business uses.
  • Research applications – Invest the time to stay ahead of the game. Your administrators should set aside time to ascertain the possible risks a new application could have and what the potential future risks are. 
  • Educate everyone and often – Your company, and more importantly your IT department, will definitely want to have an understanding of every possible task you require your employees to do. By educating everyone on why you do things the way that you do them will help keep security at the top of everyone’s mind.

With all the known threats out there, understanding which software works best, but also mitigates the most risk is becoming essential for the modern business. If you are concerned that your staff is running amok with outside software, the professional IT technicians at MyTek can help. Call us at 623-312-2440 to set up your comprehensive IT consultation, today.


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