Shadow IT: A Growing Cybersecurity Menace Impacting Businesses Globally
With the increasing interconnectedness of technology and businesses, Shadow IT continues to pose a significant risk. This uncontrolled and unregulated use of IT applications and solutions within an organization can lead to substantial cybersecurity issues. As highlighted by a recent report, Shadow IT is a contributing factor in cyber incidents in one in every ten enterprises globally.
Understanding the Concept of Shadow IT
Despite its ominous label, Shadow IT is essentially technology, software, and systems, utilized within an organization without the explicit knowledge or approval of the IT department. There are various reasons this can occur. Employees may install unapproved software or rely on non-compliant methods to store and share data due to efficiency, practicality, or personal preference.
While the convenience and efficiency of Shadow IT may sometimes increase productivity, its associated risks cannot be underestimated. According to a report by McAfee, 40% of corporate data stored in the cloud can be shared through an unsanctioned service, thereby increasing an organization’s vulnerability to data breaches.
Shadow IT and Its Influence on Cybersecurity
With its vast and inconsistent presence, Shadow IT can become a playground for potential cyber threats to exploit unnoticed vulnerabilities. The fact that these services operate ‘in the shadows’ means that cybersecurity departments often have no visibility over these systems, making it difficult to protect them from potential threats and breaches. Security management becomes an arduous task in this troubling scenario.
Many companies are increasingly turning to specialized cybersecurity services like ours at HodeiTek to safeguard their business interests.
Shadow IT can result in significant data breaches since the security controls for unauthorized applications or hardware are often either weak or nonexistent. This lack of adequate security can enable hackers to access confidential and sensitive data easily. Since these systems are not monitored by the organization’s security systems, it is often too late before the breach is even discovered.
Unapproved apps and services that do not comply with the organization’s security policy, or worse, violate regulatory standards like GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS, can lead to significant compliance risks. Non-compliance can result in hefty penalties, brand damage, and potential litigation.
Managing Shadow IT Risks
The first step in managing the potential risks associated with Shadow IT is recognizing that it exists in practically every organization. Adequate risk management strategies tailored to the potential risks of Shadow IT need to be in place to allow the secure use of third-party apps and services by employees.
Implement Robust Policies:
Clear and comprehensive cybersecurity policies should outline acceptable use of hardware, software, and services. These policies must be well-communicated to all employees and consistently enforced.
IT Inventory Tracking:
Developing an IT inventory tracking protocol can help keep tabs on all approved devices and applications within the organization.
Regular IT audits and system scans can help identify unapproved software and services, leading to a better understanding of where Shadow IT exists within the organization.
The complexity of managing Shadow IT can be overwhelming. At HodeiTek, we offer a comprehensive suite of IT and cybersecurity services to help organizations proactively manage cybersecurity risks, including those posed by Shadow IT.
As technology becomes integral to businesses, the prevalence of Shadow IT and its associated risks will continue to rise. Organizations must put in place robust security measures and seek specialized cybersecurity assistance to combat the threats posed by Shadow IT. Partnering with cybersecurity experts, such as HodeiTek, can provide the needed expertise and support to manage and mitigate these threats effectively.