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Shadow IT: how does it impact your company?

When employees take certain actions or insist on certain solutions without the knowledge of the IT department, we call it shadow IT.

In any sector of a company, the IT world needs to enforce certain access rules so that everything works accordingly.

When Shadow IT occurs, it is necessary for the IT department to be aware of these activities to ensure the company's security and verify that the related activities can be part of the company's day to day.

We have prepared this article for you to better understand what Shadow IT is, what its risks are and how to deal with this situation within your business.

What is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT is the use of IT-related hardware or software by a department or individual without the knowledge of IT or a security team within the organization. It may include cloud services, software and hardware.

The main area of focus today is the rapid adoption of cloud-based services. One of the biggest reasons employees engage in Shadow IT is to increase productivity. A study of 2012 RSA reported that 35% of employees felt they needed to circumvent company security policies to get their jobs done. For example, an employee might find a file-sharing app better than what is officially allowed. Once they start using it, the usage can spread to other members of your department.

Examples of Shadow IT

Shadow IT can take many different forms. Despite their names, the software, applications, and tools that make up Shadow IT are generally not “underground” or lesser-known names. Shadow IT is the most common programs, tools, services and hardware that IT and security professionals are already familiar with, but not approved for corporate use or specifically for use on corporate networks or corporate-owned equipment.

Shadow IT can also take the form of hardware installed or used on company-owned devices, such as flash drives or HDDs. But today, the vast majority of Shadow IT takes the form of “SaaS“: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Some common examples of Shadow IT:

  • Slack, Trello and other productivity tools;
  • Skype and other VOIP tools;
  • Google Docs, Gmail, Drive and other elements of the Google Suite (if not officially licensed or sanctioned by the IT department);
  • Dropbox, Box and other peer-to-peer cloud collaboration and file sharing tools;
  • Apple AirDrop and other bluetooth-based sharing tools;
  • WhatsApp and other messaging apps;
  • Flash drives and HDDs;

When two team members download Skype because they can't do the teams work, it's Shadow IT. When someone needs to send a very large file to Gmail, they use Dropbox, which is Shadow IT. But the problem with Shadow IT isn't the specific tools people use, it's more that they use those tools without IT's knowledge.

The risks and challenges of shadow IT for the corporation

The end result is that if IT doesn't know about an application, it can't support it or guarantee its security. the company of Gartner industry analysis predicts that by 2020, one-third of successful attacks on businesses will come from their parallel IT resources. While Shadow IT is clearly not going away, organizations can minimize risk by educating end users and taking precautions to monitor and manage rogue applications.

Shadow IT is not inherently dangerous, but some features such as file sharing/storage and collaboration (eg Google Docs) can lead to the disclosure of sensitive data. And the risk goes beyond applications, the RSA study also reports that 63% of employees send work documents to their personal emails to work from home, exposing data to networks that IT cannot monitor.

Best practices for managing risk and reducing Shadow IT

As you have seen, Shadow IT can pose a number of risks to your organization.

But here are some suggestions to dribble it in your workspace. Check out!

Set security policies

When defining an IT security policy, you document the rules and procedures that employees must follow.

These rules are designed to access and use all of the company's IT assets and resources.

As such, the purpose of this policy is to educate employees about security threats and equip them with strategies and guidelines to mitigate IT security breaches.

That is, they serve as a guide for everyone on what they can and cannot do.

Promote security training

In security training, you provide critical information about Shadow IT risks and how everyone can collaborate to meet technical security requirements.

Here you can also reinforce security policies and the importance of following governance protocols.

So everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding the risks associated with IT and the attitude to avoid them.

Adopt technologies for Asset Discovery

The technologies of asset discovery monitor anomalous networks, unexpected purchases, data and workload migrations, IT usage patterns, and other indicators of hidden IT practices.

Therefore, by adopting this technology, the shadow of your practice can be detected early and the risk can be reduced more quickly.


In this article, we would like to draw your attention to the practice of Shadow IT, to better explain the term, how it happens and what its consequences are. What we would like to know is if this article was enlightening for you, and if you were able to identify possible Shadow IT practices in your company.

If you have any questions, please contact us and we will solve this problem together!

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