Do you know every web application your employees are using? There is a high probability that your workforce is utilizing many devices and applications without explicit approval. Collectively, these programs and devices are called Shadow IT. Shadow IT is essentially any application employees download or IT service they sign up for without vetting by your IT provider. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the perfect time to address the hidden risk of Shadow IT. If you aren’t dealing with your Shadow IT problem, your business is not as secure as you think it is!
There was a time in business when any piece of software would go through a thorough vetting process. These days, times have changed. In today’s technology environment, employees are always looking for the next new app or platform to increase productivity. Employees are more tech savvy, and that makes it is less likely that every piece of IT in use has gone through a thorough vetting process or a risk assessment.
Shadow IT also includes personal devices. There is a growing tendency for team members to get work done at home using their own laptops, tablets, or desktop devices. Personal devices are notorious for lax cybersecurity practices. When employees sign onto the business network using their own devices, there is a major risk that they will bring a virus into that business network.
At this point, it is difficult to imagine an organization that is not implementing Shadow IT, whether deliberately or not. There are countless tools that employees and departments may start implementing innocently without thinking they need to involve your IT provider. Many managers and employees are now selecting their own IT services independently, without checking with an IT expert. From file sharing solutions like Dropbox, to free project management platforms, employees are constantly finding new ways to efficiently collaborate and share information from wherever they happen to be. They no longer need to be in the office to check on the status of a project, or access a sensitive document. Employees are looking for ways to hit and exceed their goals, and they are not necessarily thinking about cybersecurity or the risks they are taking.
As a decision-maker, you must always balance risk and reward. The cost of increased employee productivity may be security, and that may not be a cost you want to cover. They are likely to choose programs for ease of use and convenience, without noticing a lack of important security features like two-factor authorization or encryption. Shadow IT may also lead to mounting costs as different teams pay individually for software that would have a lower group or business rate.
What can you do to protect your business in this climate? You certainly don’t want to discourage employees from building better processes and working when they feel inspired. Yet there are many ways in which Shadow IT puts your business at risk and creates cost inefficiencies. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Contact Cooperative Systems today. We can work with you to assess Shadow IT usage, then build and implement a new Shadow IT strategy. If we find your team members using unsecured tools, our experts can recommend alternatives.
Don’t wait to get started! We will bring your Shadow IT into the light.
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