The Risks and Benefits of Shadow IT

Shadow IT is the term used for personal technology (BYOD), applications, and software or services supported by a third-party service provider, instead of an organization’s IT vendor or technology department.

Social, mobile, analytical and cloud (SMAC) technologies have been the main drivers of innovation (and disruption) in recent years. Mobile and cloud services have given end users the ability to access data and perform their business roles from almost any location. As a result, enterprise applications have shifted from corporate firewall security to public Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions for everything from accounting to human resources.

These technological trends have also resulted in the “consumerization” of IT, where end users expect a fast and easy to use mobile first experience. These expectations can lead to frustration with legacy technologies that may not work as well for employees on the go.

End users are drawn to the simplest solution. Why look for a work-related device when your cell phone or tablet is sitting on the desk? Thanks to the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, employees have access to literally thousands of apps that they can quickly install and use to perform their work tasks, all outside the perimeter of the network. So why is this a problem?


There are several issues with Shadow IT. Users who choose their own apps can expose businesses to security issues, prevent them from complying with legal guidelines, and adversely affect other users in their business unintentionally. Here are some of the ways Shadow IT can impact your business:

security – Unsupported hardware and software are not subject to the same security measures as supported technologies. Without the ability to monitor and control application usage, software and applications that integrate business data and integrate with existing business applications are at risk of cyber attacks and malware infections. This results in loss of time, loss of productivity, loss of income and loss of reputation.

Conformity – The governance and compliance risks of Shadow IT are extremely serious as sensitive data can easily be downloaded or shared. There is no process to ensure data privacy or access policies if an employee stores corporate data in their personal DropBox or EverNote account. Violations resulting from failure to follow compliance guidelines can result in significant fines.

Work flow and process – Technologies that operate without an IT department’s knowledge can negatively impact the user experience of other employees by affecting bandwidth and creating situations in which network or software application protocols are in conflict. conflict. Additionally, IT support teams may not be ready with answers or resolution when end users experience issues with unsupported tools. This slows down workers and puts additional strain on IT.


Despite all the risks that Shadow IT presents, it also comes with the potential for rewards. New applications can revolutionize processes and empower employees to work smarter and more efficiently. This requires a careful balance between management and flexibility.

Most end users do not equate the use of certain apps or devices with extreme consequences. This is where IT needs to be flexible and communicate well. Instead of telling end users that they can only use one system for the job, clearly describe what type of data to work on in unsupported applications and what data needs to stay secure in your supported network. . Make sure you identify the uses permitted in your acceptable use policy.

Now is the time to move beyond the denial stage of Shadow IT and communication is key. Educating end users and providing clear and concise guidelines for using information can help you set applicable limits. Take the time to understand the processes and employee needs. Find and use solutions that meet these needs, now and in the future. This, combined with a strong cloud and SaaS application strategy, can hold your end users and your data.

Source by Beth Stewart

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