Every disruption has a positive impact and a negative one. The important thing is to learn how to combat the negative and turn it to your advantage. Shadow IT is no exception. While people in organizations are getting more tech savvy and using multiple devices, it has become impossible for the IT teams to control the software that each person uses. Tech-savvy professionals prefer to use specific line-of-business software solutions, and that too without the knowledge of the IT department.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) facility has been a propeller to encourage Shadow IT – isn’t it? Employees get to choose their mobile devices, the software they wish to install, and the way they wish to transmit data (all thanks to Cloud, SaaS and PaaS applications). There are many ways to bypass the IT department.

Not all employees understand the implications of data security and compliance related to corporate data. Legacy firewalls and security tools are not enough to monitor everything going on in the organization. On-premises firewall fails to register the information that is being exchanged when cloud resources are sending the data back and forth.

Shadow IT is a huge risk that neither the IT department can ignore, nor the CIO or CTO can ignore. It is being called the consumerization of IT. There are huge risks associated with Risk IT for example, Software Asset Management compliance issues, challenges in adopting standards like ISO, failure to manage software updates successfully, and issue with configuration management.

Shadow IT

Image Source: https://blogs-images.forbes.com/davelewis/files/2015/05/shadow-it.jpg

What is Shadow IT?

If you want me to give you a proper definition of Shadow IT, well, I’ll go with what Wikipedia says. Shadow IT is a term often used to describe information-technology systems and solutions built and used inside organizations without explicit organizational approval. It is also used, along with the term “Stealth IT”, to describe solutions specified and deployed by departments other than the IT department.

Is the situation really that bad?

Thankfully, it isn’t.

The next-gen security tools are advanced and smart enough to detect even the smallest of data leaks. They can sniff each data packet that goes out or comes in the virtual environment. The IT teams can have the visibility to apply security policies on cloud resources. There are many organizations who believe that if they partner with a reliable security expert, they can keep their IaaS resources away from any threats.

Organizations that are already using cloud services rely on the security measures of their SaaS or IaaS provider. Is it an advisable thing to do? Perhaps it is. While cloud security vendors are responsible for ensuring infrastructure security, the security of the apps and data is your responsibility. If you haven’t heard of the term shared responsibility model, this is exactly what it is.

What can you do about Shadow IT?

Your first instinct will be to clamp down on Shadow IT in order to control it. The IT departments see it as a major threat as they constantly have to deal with security risks, inefficiencies, duplicate technologies, and it can even become an obstacle in moving your IT department ahead.

The organizations need to first identify the root cause for Shadow IT. They have to evaluate the weak areas in their IT systems, then take into confidence, each department, to understand how IT department can help them with the required software, and finally use it as an opportunity to reinstitute the IT function with the responsibility of a single person to overlook the software used.

There are some best practices to face Shadow IT in your organization.

  • People in the organization often complain that their IT departments take forever to approve a new software request. Expedite that. Categorize each request as high, medium and low and have a turnaround time for each
  • Leverage cloud. Suggest your own security measures and also let your cloud implementation partner suggest, discuss and deploy their own security measures
  • Ensure that each person in the organization is aware of the repercussions of regulations failure or inability to comply. Make policies and also make people aware about them
  • Understand the logic behind Shadow IT operations and you may allow it to continue for a short time if the business unit gives a fair explanation for its use
  • Interact with all the business units regularly and understand their business requirements

If you need some more insight into the best ways to combat Shadow IT, you can have a word with our experts to know more.


  1. Minisha says:

    This is the fear of disappointment that prevents us from making a move.

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