Shadow IT: Detection and Control

Shadow IT: Detection and Control

Expanding businesses necessitates employees to try the latest solutions to streamline and simplify work. While restricting them from trying new solutions is challenging, organizations must efficiently mitigate the Shadow IT risks. 

Shadow IT may create challenging situations for the IT environment when companies cannot manage it efficiently. It creates risks; therefore, companies must understand why employees utilize a particular solution to simplify their work.

Companies must meet IT requirements while following adequate IT standards. They must bridge the gap by adhering to IT rules and developing the flexibility to adapt to new solutions. Here are a few ways how organizations can detect and control Shadow IT-

Locate Shadow IT

An initial step in controlling Shadow IT is to detect and procure insights into the extent to which it exists in the organization. While most Shadow IT is aaS, hardware technology always has a Software as a Service (SaaS) component to run it.

Most companies leverage a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) for SaaS discovery and security, however; CASBs are noisy.

CASBs perform data collection activities, but they could serve better in discovering new SaaS applications for businesses to utilize. With data already present, an analyst must make additional efforts to determine whether a user has created an account, especially when using local user credentials and not an identity provider.

Collated data enables businesses to take mandatory actions and achieve desired security results. To discover Shadow IT, companies must choose an automated tool or method- creating an account using business credentials outside the other IAM solutions. 

Also Read: Best Practices to Secure Critical Infrastructure

Categorize Shadow IT Risks Mitigation Protocols

Ensuring that employees acquire a steady stream of updated technologies to work efficiently is challenging. With higher numbers of employees, this can take weeks to track. When Shadow IT enters the process in large volumes, risk categorization becomes essential when the risks vary.

Prioritizing risk mitigation is essential since the risk level of a technology posed at organizations goes beyond the availability of industry certifications such as SOC2 or ISO 27001. These are standard certifications, and even small businesses and start-ups get them. Rather than aiming at the vendor’s controls, companies must assess risks through an enterprise-based approach. Here are the following factors companies must focus on-

  • Does the user understand an organization’s security and risk policies for buying and leveraging software or SaaS?
  • Will businesses utilize all the sensitive data, and which systems will integrate the technology?
  • How many users or other users are in the company?

Protect Shadow IT Accounts

Securing Shadow IT is pretty straightforward. Using hardware location is an easy assumption for locating the physical device in a location or a network. However, the software is always SaaS, which is challenging since businesses can access it from a company network or a managed or unmanaged device via a different location.

A robust way to secure SaaS is to restrict the SaaS account if there are any indications of a violation of the company policies or if the employee is no longer associated with the company. Account de-provision is desirable, but actively securing it so no one can access the account is a crucial initial step.

Facilitate Security Across Control Points

After securing the Shadow technology, the next step is facilitating the application’s security through multiple secure points. For instance, when a deemed SaaS application is at risk, all the users of the application must restrict its utilization. As a supplementary security layer, businesses must block access to SaaS websites or set an alert upon creating new accounts.

Good facilitation is crucial when threat intelligence data or third-party risk management systems discover a SaaS application breach. Hence, breached account users must assess every account and reset the password.

According to a recent report by Better Cloud, “2023 State of SaaSOps“, 86% of IT professionals say automation is essential to manage SaaS operations, while 64% lack insight and visibility to automate effectively.

All these operations are possible with current tools, but effective workflows may be inadequate. Moreover, security product automation helps businesses ensure that the security teams have streamlined the control points, analytics, telemetry, and operations to secure shadow SaaS. 

Also Read: Application Security Trends to Watch for

Foster Secure Shadow IT

Shadow SaaS continues to evolve. It resembles Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend- standard at most companies. At the same time, with powerful consumer technology, employees found it quick and easy to utilize consumer devices at work. Moreover, the BYOD attributes outweighed the expenses of creating applications supporting BYOD.

According to a recent report by Better Cloud, “2023 State of SaaSOps“, 59% of IT professionals find it challenging to manage SaaS sprawls, while 65% of unsanctioned SaaS apps that the users adopt are without IT’s knowledge or approval. Additionally, 57% of IT professionals have accelerated the SaaS app numbers managed in the last 12 months.

There is a similar scenario for Shadow IT- specifically for SaaS. Employees do not require IT  assistance to buy robust applications. They will need an email address and frequently free accounts that are upgradeable. That’s the base of the risk of shadow IT. Businesses must acknowledge the efficiencies to build a framework that allows employees to utilize adequate tools for maintaining governance and control over the company data and technologies.  


It is essential to detect and control Shadow IT. Businesses must understand the diverse impacts Shadow IT can have on security. With employees holding the key to the SaaS stack, tracking when an employee signs in for an application is challenging. Deploying a solid SaaS management platform determines all the applications within the SaaS landscape. Robust dashboards immediately identify new signups and ensure no duplications or unnecessary access.

Companies must try to eliminate or at least minimize shadow IT impacts on their IT infrastructure or allow a huge security risk to nest within their infrastructure.

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