Shadow IT: What it is and how to explain its dangers to your employees

Unapproved apps and devices pose a threat to your organization. Here’s why employees use them and why it is up to YOU to solve this problem.

What is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT is the use of software and hardware by staff that is not company-approved. Because these apps and devices don’t fall inside corporate security protocol, they can cause serious issues. According to Cisco:

  • 80% of employees use software not cleared by IT
  • 83% of IT staff admit to using unsanctioned software or services
  • Only 8% of all enterprises know the scope of Shadow IT within their organization

Shadow IT elements can include unauthorized versions Trello, Slack, Snapchat, WhatsApp, external drives, Google Drive, and Skype. It may also include employees using unsecured personal devices for business purposes.

What are the dangers of Shadow IT?

Shadow IT brings two main problems:

  1. Risk of security breach: Since these systems are not controlled by, or accessible to, the company, there’s a greater likelihood hackers will find their way in.
  2. Challenges in solving problems: The company’s technical team may find solving problems on these systems very challenging since they don’t regularly deal with them.
  3. Inadvertent data silos: Department use of Shadow IT means the rest of the organization won’t have access to that information.

If there are such severe risks, why do employees use Shadow IT?

Employees mainly use these unapproved systems to improve their productivity. There are so many new tools available daily that may provide better features than what you’re using in your workplace. Employees tend to prefer these new, updated, and easily accessible tools.

How can you put a stop to Shadow IT practices?

Every company can take some steps towards avoiding Shadow IT:

  1. Educate employees about the risks of using Shadow IT
  2. Block specific systems on company devices
  3. Regularly monitor and audit the tools used by employees
  4. Based on the audits, focus on enhancing the employee’s work experience by providing tools and software that are up-to-date and convenient to use

Improve the in-house systems, and your employees won’t chase unapproved external tools. Become a part of the 8%. Start working to say goodbye to Shadow IT!

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