By 2020, shadow IT is anticipated to bring about a third of cybersecurity threats, according to Gartner. The mere fact that employees go behind the back of your IT department to use unsanctioned cloud services in their day to day activities introduces this hidden threat. While the IT department has a mandate to protect your organization from looming security threats, it becomes tough to do so when the threat surface is diversified, and they have no idea of what aspects of the cloud infrastructure is threatening to your data security goals.
But who can blame employees? With easier access to cloud services and most of them offering an easier way to get their work done, most choose the maverick path to achieve their tasks. Furthermore, some IT departments might lack the budget to invest in these unsanctioned business assets which leads to employees paying for them from their own pockets. The trick is learning how to circumvent this threat.
Here are some insights on taming the shadow IT beast:
Make Usability and Security Co-Exist
Most employees find some of the security protocols that your business uses to be overwhelming when looking to achieve certain tasks. Since it is human nature to use the easiest path, some might turn to other unsanctioned services only to achieve their job easier. Despite this being a good deed, there is no telling the security threat that such a move can expose you to.
As such, it is vital to ensure that your IT landscape offers assets that promote both security and usability, according to EIRE Systems. In case an employee feels that a certain security policy makes doing work tough, they should feel free to approach you. This open line of communication ensures that you can refer to any usability issues before they result in shadow IT.
Focus On Data Security
The biggest risk to employees going rogue isn’t the fact that they are using unsanctioned services. Instead, the biggest risk is whether your priced data will be exposed in the process. While you might argue that your SaaS vendor offers state-of-the-art security, you shouldn’t bank on this.
In some cases, the security offered by such vendors might not be enough for your organization, and most work under ‘the checkbox mentality’ to comply with industry regulations. As such, you should invest in security solutions that are tailored to your specific security needs. Aspects such as encryption and data anonymization should also be part of your cybersecurity arsenal.
Refuse To Cover Shadow IT Expenses
While some employees will pay for the extra services using corporate funds, others will pay using their credit cards. For the latter, the efficiency that these unsanctioned services offer is worth going into their own pockets. Furthermore, you might have already restricted the purchase of such services without the prior go-ahead from the IT leaders.
Look to limit such expenses by introducing a policy that warns against investing in cloud services using any resources outside your IT budget. This way, you will retrain the employees to always work with your IT leaders when investing.
Collaborate With These Rogue Employees
Shadow IT bridges a gap between IT departments and employees, but it doesn’t have to be a threat. Employees can have access to information about IT services that will improve productivity but your IT department doesn’t. The trick lies in how you extract this information from them.
You can allow employees to access unsanctioned services as long as they do not infringe the set security policies. Additionally, they should also communicate with IT leaders whenever they think that service will work better than the current ones. With such an approach, employees will feel better approaching the IT leaders with security questions on what services to invest in – which is better than them choosing any random service.
The best way for circumventing the shadow IT threat is to collaborate with the employees. When making IT purchasing decisions, end-users should at least be involved as they will most likely be the same individuals using these investments. Consider creating a culture of collaboration to kill the shadow IT threat.