Shadow IT: How to Protect Something You Didn’t Know Was There

We know that to secure a network, we need to control every single thing that happens on it. But this becomes especially difficult when there are points of the network that we don’t even know about. How can we combat an enemy that moves in the shadows?

What is Shadow IT?

Such blind spots fall under what is called Shadow IT, a term used to describe unapproved systems built and used inside organizations.

This means that all these applications are used in the company behind the back of the IT department, so they cannot be controlled, documented, or even monitored. This creates an overwhelming amount of blind spots for the company’s security. Although tools like Adaptive Defense 360 ​​allow continuous monitoring of processes that occur throughout the network, allowing any situation involving suspicious behavior to be controlled and remedied, the danger associated with Shadow IT remains severe.

What is its impact?

According to a study carried out by EMC, annual losses provoked by Shadow IT reach up to 1.7 trillion dollars. Why? The answer is simple: data loss, systems becoming infected, industrial espionage … all conceivable security breaches are much more plausible when the company’s own experts are unaware of the system’s most glaring weaknesses.

But Shadow IT is not only a source of insecurity. It can also be a trigger for innovation, something that could help us improve the efficiency and well-being of the entire company. So what should we do to keep this possibility open without exposing our security to major flaws?

Design affordable policies

The secret is in balance. The use of adequate software, solutions and devices that ensure absolute control of the systems is essential. But it is also crucial to meet the needs of workers, preventing them from resorting to unauthorized solutions that may be more functional.

Prioritize education in IT and Security

We must ensure that all members of the company are aware of the very real security needs of the company. We must also educate them technologically, as well as pay particular attention to the fact that there are no blind spots regarding the use of company-approved applications, and justification for their use.

Create a “clean” environment

The fewer uncontrolled devices in the enterprise, the easier it is to maintain security. It is a good idea to avoid connecting devices to the company’s network that are not pre-approved. Mobile phones and personal laptops should have restricted use: less clutter is better.

Promote an open house policy

It is very counterproductive to create fear and aversion to novelty. Do workers believe that it is better to use one or another tool? Invite them to give their ideas. Put your IT team to work on these and decide if they are worth it. The Open Doors policy will help reduce the use of software and solutions unknown to the company.

Focus on behaviors, not software

In order to figure out what applications and solutions we need, it is better to focus on the behavior, tasks, and needs of our employees. We will probably find better tools and applications and more efficient ways to design a workflow. And  controlling every step of the way from the very beginning.

Provide the best of the best

There is a little trick that will prevent even the most stubborn workers from not falling into Shadow IT: provide the best tools available. Do not skimp or try to save resources with devices and outdated software. In many cases, newer models usually work better. Operating with this in mind will help save money in the long term, and spare your company from future security upsets.

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