For business management solutions email us or call 020 3004 4600

How can Shadow IT be defined in business

There are no doubts that if you operate in this side of technology, you will have a basic understanding of the term ‘Shadow IT’ but might not know in detail what is it or where it comes from? This is where we can help as in our latest blog article, we will provide you with a detailed definition of Shadow IT as well as some of the associated risks. 

So, what is Shadow IT? 

Put simply, Shadow IT is the use of information technology systems, devices, software, applications, and services without explicit IT department approval. 

Most users turn to this to help them complete a certain task that cannot be achieved using the applications within the business or due to the red tape cast upon them from within the business.  It is important to understand that in the vast majority of cases it isn't used in a malicious way, more so to help improve their overall productivity. 

Without a shadow of a doubt, there could be an argument that shadow IT can bring a whole host of benefits to your business. Your employees want to get tasks completed faster and have found ways to achieve this goal by speeding things up, using innovative approaches as well as increasing their overall efficiency. 

Does this sound like a true story? 

What are the associated risks of using Shadow IT? 

Risks to the overall security of your business 

In the vast majority of cases within businesses, strict controls are put in place to not only protect users but to safeguard company data. These safeguards are in place to stop data being freely shared, dodgy websites not to be accessed as well as stopping users from using questionable applications not only to stop a potential cyber-attack but to also stop users doing things by accident. If this process doesn’t have some form of regulations in place, this can put the whole business at risk. 

Additional IT costs 

It can sometimes be the case whereby users are paying subscription or usage fees for using shadow IT systems. Granted, it might be coming out of someone’s budget but isn't being allocated to IT. This only raises more questions when it comes to understanding the return on investment on solutions that your business is paying for to meet challenges head on. If most of your users are not using these systems then all the costs associated with keeping it up and running are being wasted completely. 

Limiting progression 

It doesn’t come as a surprise that working towards a full digital transformation can't be achieved if users decide to take it upon themselves to maintain old and dated ways of working. Therefore, it is vital for businesses to help encourage the adoption of new solutions by giving useful training to make sure that they maintain the support of the users in the business. 

So, why is Shadow IT increasing? 

There are no doubts that the changes seen in the working practices of many businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have seen users facing more challenges working from home than ever before. This in itself has led to a significant increase in the use of shadow IT. To back up this argument, here are some useful stats: 

  • 59% increase in shadow IT use since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • 1 in 5 organisations have suffered a cyber-attack as a direct result of shadow IT use. 

Following on from some of the above statistics, what are users using instead? 

  • Messaging services such as WhatsApp 
  • Cloud storage such as Microsoft OneDrive 
  • Communications apps such as Teams 

It doesn’t come as a surprise that these users are seen as the weakest in the business here, however it is important to understand that this weakness can be caused by other elements so you need to at least acknowledge this can also be the case. When it comes to IT departments, control is the best form of security that can be used to address the weakness in the user base. However, it is important to make sure that these controls aren’t too restrictive to hinder productivity. Otherwise, you will be in the same situation as before where you can’t see what is happening behind the scenes. 

Therefore, to ensure that you keep on top of this, you need to make sure that your users have all the tools they need as well as the added flexibility to work from any location. This means you will need to look to adopt IT management and security frameworks and keep regularly in contact with users via both training as well as constant feedback. 

Next Steps? 

If you are a business that is looking to find out how to beat shadow IT then please do give our team of IT experts a call today to discuss all the tailored IT security options that are available for your business. 

Want to get more news and views delivered to your inbox? You can by signing up to our mailing list