Monitoring shadow IT can be a very challenging task for network admins and IT directors. While “shadow IT” seems like a very fancy term, it isn’t that complicated to understand. In this article, we will learn what shadow IT means and its many dangers and pitfalls. Finally, we will learn how Netenrich easily rectifies this issue for you.
What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT refers to any software or hardware deployed within the company without obtaining the central IT department’s explicit permission. Popular shadow IT examples include:
Teams or business units who adopt these unsanctioned solutions mostly do it for harmless, yet valid reasons. The growing culture of decentralization also encourages functional teams to buy and manage their own software without having to run it by internal IT. Yet the fact remains that these solutions can lead to blind spots and a growing attack surface. Cloud-based applications and mobile devices are significant contributors to the shadow IT problem.
Reasons for Shadow IT
Corporate cost-cutting measures are also responsible for the rise of Shadow IT. It is not always financially feasible for companies to provide individual employees with tools such as laptops, hence the rise of Bring Your Own Device or “BYOD.”
On the other hand, even if the company does provide equipment, IT is not always fast enough in providing the necessary tools. As Johanne Ulloa aka @julloa on Twitter, the host of NoLimitSecu podcast puts it:
“This lack of agility on the part of the IT departments goes a long way to explaining the growth of Shadow IT. If employees need a resource but the unwieldiness of the process means that the IT department are slow to provide it, they will go through a third party.”
Rather than wait around for the IT team to get back to them, employees often opt for a third-party solution. Unfortunately, this inevitably leads to a host of vulnerabilities.
Data and Cloud Security Risks of Shadow IT
So, what are you exposing your company to when Shadow IT goes unchecked?
- Breaches: When the company’s central IT team does not protect third-party applications, it may be beyond the purview of firewalls and virus scanners to do so, either
- Data loss: Shadow IT applications are not part of backup and restore strategies such that critical data is lost from these applications may be impossible to recover
- Unauthorized Data Access: Since there is no overview of possible access, external service providers and former employees may be able to data
- Overall Inefficiency: Hardware and software changes within shadow IT may not go through rigorous testing by IT which can result in incompatibility and an administration and maintenance nightmare
- Compliance violations: The very use of shadow IT applications is a compliance violation in most companies
If we look at all this from a hacker’s point-of-view, we can see possible vulnerabilities to exploit on your attack surface. Exposure can lead to attacks that your company millions of dollars and often-unrecoverable customer trust.
So, how do you protect your company against the dangers of shadow IT? At Netenrich, we have the perfect solution.
Monitoring Shadow IT with Netenrich
Netenrich’s proprietary Attack Surface Intelligence or ASI continuously monitors and detects our clients’ network, data center, and cloud infrastructure, without handicapping them with resource-intensive scans. Our continuous infra monitoring helps you stay on top of shadow IT by providing and promoting:
- Scale: A big team usually works and communicates using multiple channels, which slips outside the company’s purview and firewall. Our continuous monitoring ensures this doesn’t happen. We also point out the possible points of weakness in your infrastructure.
- Accurate identification and management of shadow IT: Policies adjust automatically and we prevent data from being stored in unsanctioned services.
- Analysis that brings together assets from disparate locations to evaluate factors impacting performance.
- Control over data flow from and to shadow IT assets.
- Understanding of asset risk profiles and exposure by tracking assets with a history of major incidents.
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