The Dangers of Shadow IT

November 12, 2021 by
The Dangers of Shadow IT
Matthew Almendinger

Most companies leave the IT side of their business to the IT department; however, as things become easier and more accessible , Shadow IT grows. But what is it? Shadow IT is defined as IT systems and devices managed outside of the IT department without their knowledge. Shadow IT is usually performed as a quick fix by a non-IT department to solve a problem that the IT department has not (usually due to time constraints) or cannot. Sometimes, it is an attempt to make things more convenient for the end-user, but it generally becomes a bigger problem as time goes on. While Shadow IT can have benefits and has lead to several innovations, it does not come without its drawbacks.

The primary drawback of Shadow IT is the inherent security risks that it poses. If an employee uses software that is not being monitored by IT, then any security risks that software poses may be unknown to the user and therefore not correctly dealt with. These security risks can lead to the network getting infected with malware or data leaks. Additionally, Shadow IT can lead to data inconsistencies throughout the organization. If a department has set up its own cloud-based storage without informing anyone else in the organization, anything stored there is not accessible to anyone else. Said inconsistency can lead to a dysfunctional working environment and wasted time as people need to sort out who has what and send it to each other. One final problem we will cover that Shadow IT can create is a breach in compliance. There are many different sets of standards on how data should and can be handled, such as the CCPA, GDPR, HIPAA, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to name a few. Shadow IT can lead to inadvertently breaching compliance with these standards and further potential consequences therein.

While Shadow IT does have the potential to lead to innovation within your industry, the odds are far more likely that it will simply be a hassle within your business. By definition, Shadow IT is challenging to keep track of, but you should take steps to limit its existence within your business regardless.

We highly recommend you get our Cybersecurity Essentials for Business Owners to understand the state of cybersecurity in today's climate.

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