Shadow IT Is a Bigger Problem Than Most of Us Realize

Thursday, 9 March, 2017 In Featured News, General News
Maybe you’ve only heard about shadow IT in passing or think it’s not very likely to impact your workplace, so it’s not important. It’ll soon be clear shadow IT is wreaking havoc in ways most people aren’t aware of, making it a worthwhile subject to discuss.

Shadow IT Weakens Organizational Standards

When you first started working at a new place, you were probably given a computer that was set up in certain ways and only included software that had been approved by the organization’s IT department. Many offices follow that practice because it allows representatives to ensure all computers in the building are properly secured against threats.

If organizations have standards about which software and apps are allowed, it makes it easier for IT specialists to find vulnerabilities after hacking attempts occur. However, many employees may not realize they’re breaking rules by downloading certain apps or software offerings. Many software companies let people check out products with free trials and permit paying for the full versions via PayPal to make transactions simpler.

Shadow IT compromises tech standards within an organization because the use of unauthorized software might mean each computer has different capabilities. Even worse, the software potentially puts the entire network at risk because of security flaws and makes it harder for IT professionals to manage their respective systems.

Shadow IT Could Let Unauthorized Parties See Confidential Files

There are many high-tech products available that facilitate sharing files across great distances. Many are cloud based, meaning users can access content across multiple devices from where they are without running into location-based difficulties.

However, shadow IT has also become a common problem in the cloud computing sector. According to a recent survey, 78 percent of IT managers said users had gone behind their backs multiple times to set up and start using unauthorized cloud-based services.

This is also known as “rogue IT.” Some examples of it include using Skype to conduct work-related conversations, downloading an instant-messaging app onto a company-owned tablet or using Google Drive to collaborate on a shared project.

If people use unauthorized cloud services to compose, share or view company files, those actions could understandably cause huge confidentiality breaches. In some cases, ex-employees can still access confidential material, too.

A 2014 survey about rogue access revealed that 89 percent of ex-employees were still able to access content stored through cloud-based services like PayPal, Basecamp and Office 365 — and that’s merely because they left the company in possession of valid login credentials.

Things probably would not go wrong if workers left companies on good terms, but it’s not hard to imagine what could happen if employees were upset with their workplaces and wanted to retaliate.

The Risk Is Particularly Great in the Health Care Industry

If you don’t think shadow IT poses a pressing problem in today’s society, consider that analysts warn the associated risks are especially troubling in the health care industry. Health professionals receive ongoing training to understand how to handle sensitive patient data in accordance with national standards. However, on average they also use dozens of cloud-based interfaces while going about their work. Many health care workers don’t actively break rules by going rogue, but because they don’t know which cloud services are the most secure, they unintentionally expose their workplaces to problems.

Hackers specifically target health care records because they contain a wealth of information. When health professionals tap into the shadow IT market by using any product that’s not authorized by their companies, they could help hackers carry out successful attacks.

Shadow IT creates major issues. Keep your employees informed about company practices and use programs that prevent people from accessing sites not explicitly approved if you want to avoid trouble.

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