Enterprises are always unaware of potential weaknesses in so-called shadow IT. The COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020 gave the shadow IT issue a new perspective. Due to the fact that most business networks were not set up to allow for secure remote access by employees, the unexpected requirement to manage all processes remotely presented a significant barrier.
When personnel are unhappy with the practices of the established IT department, such as poor problem resolution times or refusal to adopt a particular program, employees turn to shadow IT. CISOs and other senior IT professionals may suffer if they lose control of IT operations.
Employees continuously adopt new tools that help them perform more productively in today’s agile workplace. They frequently ignore IT-approved technology, implement unapproved apps and pose unknown risks to the environment. These shadow IT risks are further increased by digital transformation activities, the growth of SaaS solutions, and, particularly, when firms adopt the cloud.
Here are six shadow IT risks and some tips CIOs, CISOs, and IT leaders can employ to steer clear of or at least lessen their impact.
Issues with compliance
Regulated enterprises like financial institutions and those that are closely inspected by the government, such as utility corporations and healthcare providers, cannot afford to have their compliance with regulations interrupted. Shadow IT activities can unintentionally result in issues like system failures that lead to non-compliant situations.
Shadow IT activities could result in non-compliant conditions that, if detected, could lead to fines and even legal action in circumstances where compliance is constantly reviewed and reported.
Increased risk of legal action
Before the pandemic, it was usually not too difficult to look through company email systems and files for information that legal counsel might require to answer a lawsuit. Organizations now have less ability to retain evidence before litigation due to teams using shadow IT who frequently have never worked remotely.
Shadow IT causes security weaknesses that a company must solve. Shadow IT doesn’t go through the same security checks as other supported technologies because it hasn’t been approved by the IT department.
Despite the apparent safety of certain unsupported SaaS programs, others may encourage the exchange of private information among groups or the recording of calls for transcription services. IT personnel must be aware of the apps being used and how they may expose the business to liabilities and the risk of data breaches.
Data unauthorized access
Making sure that only authorized individuals have access to IT systems and resources is a crucial audit control concern. Numerous access controls and technologies are available to guarantee adherence to rules and standards and to pass audit examination. However, there is a danger of data loss, application damage, data theft, malware introduction, and other concerns if unauthorized access is being made to production systems.
It is inadequate to accumulate and employ data across multiple infrastructure sites. IT departments cannot plan for capacity, system design, security, and performance across data in dispersed and silo shadow IT apps if the organization is not aware of the data flows. Analysis and reporting are distorted and complicated when many data versions exist in various unmapped locations.
Inadequate IT visibility
Last but not least, despite the fact that SaaS applications don’t appear to take up much space, inappropriate ones might negatively affect bandwidth and productivity. When a shadow IT application used by one team malfunctions, the IT department lacks the expertise and documentation to repair it. Companies should consider the disruption that can result from needing to complete a time-sensitive project.
Many third-party applications were never intended to be a part of the infrastructure in the first place, at least not without ITs awareness. As a result, the IT department can be caught off guard when a significant update is made that doesn’t work with the infrastructure.