“Shadow IT” can be defined as IT solutions deployed within a business without the knowledge or approval of the IT department. It is put into place by employees who are looking for ways to be more productive and find going through the proper channels to get IT services approved to be cumbersome and time consuming.
Employees may be using SaaS applications such as Dropbox or Evernote for personal use and want the ease and convenience of these apps in their business workflow. It may seem like a harmless endeavor for an employee to install an application in order for them to work more efficiently. The problem is that when company data is being shared outside of systems that can be controlled and monitored, the data is put at considerable risk and the chances of a serious hack or virus increase dramatically.
IT departments take special consideration to make sure all parts of a company’s IT infrastructure are built and maintained to ensure optimum levels of security and performance. The software applications used within an IT environment are carefully vetted to ensure they meet certain requirements. A few key areas of vulnerability that are considered to maintain security and performance are:
- Business software compliance: Also referred to as Software Asset Management; it is the system by which IT departments manage the procurement of licenses. Certain types of software are not authorized to be used in business environments, such as anything designated as a Home version. These versions have lower security requirements and can leave the devices running them open to security breaches.
- Testing and verification of software: If an unauthorized software application is inserted into a system or if an application is updated to a new version without approval, the entire system can break. Identifying the unauthorized change and repairing the system can be time consuming and costly.
- Industry compliance: Some industries have very specific compliance standards that must be adhered to. An example of a common standard is PCI compliance for companies that deal with credit card transactions. If these standards are not followed by all employees, businesses can be fined and risk losing customers.
It is critical to work with your employees to understand why unauthorized applications and devices are being used. If employees are citing that particular applications makes it easier for them to work collaboratively, then it is worth it for you to examine how these apps can be used by your company. Your IT department can review and make recommendations on how these solutions can be implemented and used safely and securely within your IT infrastructure. The increase of the mobile and flexible workforce has made the use of cloud-based services essential for productivity. But when used in a business environment, a balance between
convenience and security must be met so employees can do their work and business owners can be confident that their data is being protected.
Concerned about how Shadow IT may be affecting your business? Contact JNT Tek to schedule an IT Assessment.