According to 77% of the IT professionals recently surveyed by Entrust Datacard, if left unchecked, shadow IT will be a far bigger concern for businesses in 2025 than it is today. To help them with their work, employees are increasingly using new devices and apps without getting them approved by the IT department, and if this trend continues, things could get so out of hand that IT will have no way to effectively ensure that the company’s infrastructure and data is safe.
Indeed, without setting up preventive measures to contend with the current and future realities of shadow IT, your business could be facing huge risks in the form of exposure to cybersecurity threats like data breaches and massive data loss. The challenge, however, is finding shadow IT within your systems and networks, so you can mitigate the risks that unmanaged and unapproved technologies bring to your business.
In this post, we’ll take a look at five ways you can minimize your company’s exposure to the dangers of shadow IT.
1. Centralize IT management as much as you can.
While it might not be possible to manage every single device, app, and other technology that is used within your business, you can mitigate the risks of shadow IT by centralizing your IT management.
For instance, you can set up limited access to the company devices that your employees use that disallows them from installing any software on their computers or laptops.
This helps ensure that any software installation goes through your IT department, or at least that only IT personnel with the right credentials can install new apps and tools.
Doing this helps ensure sure that no unapproved and potentially harmful software gains access to your network or systems.
2. Monitor your network.
One of the main cybersecurity risks of using shadow IT is to your network. Unless you know what’s in use and what has access, there’s no way for you to even try to control your network endpoints.
Shadow IT can create security gaps in your network that cybercriminals can exploit to hack into your systems and steal your sensitive business data. Plus, unsanctioned hardware and software can have a lot of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and unpatched errors, or even back doors that hackers and scammers can easily identify.
This makes monitoring your network crucial to your protection from the dangers of shadow IT. By monitoring your network, you can keep a close eye on users who are connected to your WiFi, for example, allowing you to detect and remove unauthorized users.
You can also segment your network to minimize the risks of compromising all of your servers, databases and workstations in case of a breach.
3. Track the SaaS apps used in your company.
The unapproved apps that your employees installed can remain undetected if you don’t reign in centralized control of your endpoints’ admin user permissions. However, that only helps make it harder for people to install unauthorized software, whereas today’s leading business tools are generally accessed via the web browser, so there’s often nothing to install. SaaS web app subscriptions, then, represent an arguably larger blind spot for IT managers.
That’s why reliable SaaS management platforms like Torii are invaluable to organizations are looking to organize, track, authorize and control their SaaS stacks.
Torii offers a user-friendly dashboard where you can view insights about your company’s SaaS usage, costs and access permissions. The platform also lets you create workflows to alert IT, and trigger additional actions, when apps are newly detected or stop being used.
With the dashboard, you can easily see the number of users, applications, costs and other essential details of your company’s IT ecosystem such as users who recently left, the latest discovered apps, and your software licenses that are up for renewal.
Torii also offers several web browser extensions that can monitor the use of different web apps securely. Plus, it offers integrations for your Single Sign-On (SSO) identity management platforms, such as G-Suite, so Torii can see what happens when users in your company log in to your SaaS apps.
Let’s say you use Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms like NetSuite. With Torii, you can use API integration to automatically import data. You can also manually upload credit card statements, invoices and other financial reports, and Torii’s system will recognize and correlate the relevant rows to corresponding SaaS products, adding everything to your dashboard.
With the IT management features and tools that Torii offers, you can start tracking and monitoring your SaaS stack with greater efficiency. This ultimately leads to a more cohesive and better managed IT — both of which are crucial when protecting your company against cyber attacks.
5. Educate and train your employees.
One of the most effective ways to mitigate the risks of shadow IT is to educate your employees about the dangers of using unsanctioned apps and gadgets.
If your employees understand the risks involved with downloading an unapproved third-party app, for instance, they’ll be more likely to avoid doing so.
Think of it this way. If you simply forbid your employees from using unsanctioned tech, they won’t really understand why, and anyone who is already knee deep in shadow IT use will scoff at your ban. On the other hand, when you train them and present real cases and scenarios, they’ll be more aware of the potential risks they’re putting your business in when using shadow IT.
You might also want to consider why your employees turn to shadow IT in the first place – such as the possibility that your standard tools might not be allowing them to work effectively.
Consider the challenges that your employees are facing as you improve your existing IT software and tools. As you you ensure that your employees’ IT needs are met, they won’t have any reason to turn to unauthorized tech.
5. Establish a shadow IT policy.
Just because shadow IT operates under the radar of IT employees doesn’t mean you can’t establish preventive measures to protect your business against it.
One of the best protective measures you can take is by establishing a carefully-crafted shadow IT policy. According to the aforementioned Entrust Datacard report, this is something that 37% of organizations currently lack.
If you document these standards, as well as the consequences of breaking the policy, then you’ll have a far easier time communicating the risks involved with shadow IT to your team and getting everyone invested in better practices.
This way, you can minimize the risks of data breaches or cyber criminals gaining access to your system and highly-sensitive data through unknown third-party apps.
Reduce the risks of shadow IT to your business.
Although there is no perfect solution to fully eliminating shadow IT from your company, considering these tips will help you reduce the risks to your cybersecurity.
With the right approach to dealing with shadow IT, you can reduce the potential threats that shadow IT can bring to your business.
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