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The Threats of Shadow IT

Shadow IT. The danger that lurks beyond your IT systems…

 

It sounds like a dark and mysterious phrase, but Shadow IT is a concept you should be asking about your business. It’s easy to shelf the question and assume everything is fine from what a business owner can see on the surface, but if they don’t have a firm grasp on what processes are happening behind the scenes then it could be a massive security risk. Shadow IT is the term used to describe this.

Therefore, we thought we would outline what Shadow IT is, what threats it could potentially pose to your business and what you can put in place to strengthen yourself in the future.

What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT can be hardware or software within a workplace network that is not supported by the businesses central IT team. Essentially, it describes the IT systems that are being used in the background, rightly or wrongly.

What do we think about it?
We firmly believe that Shadow IT threats will be major problem for businesses, and service companies like ourselves will need to be on our toes.

To strengthen our suspicions, Gartner has predicted that by 2020 a third of all successful attacks on businesses will be because of Shadow IT. Along with the Cisco blog stating that large enterprises on average use over 1,200 cloud services – with 98% of them being Shadow IT.

 

What threats are there?

 

Lack of security
If an application or software package runs outside your IT team’s knowledge, your IT team cannot ensure the security of the business within your network. This means that if a piece of software is running, your IT team cannot manage them effectively and provide them with updates or general maintenance.

 

Risk of a data breach and data loss
The other side of your IT team not being able to spot new software or hardware, means that they cannot provide any control over backup or recovery systems. Further to this, employee or business data could be vulnerable to being exposed due to Shadow IT being a part of your work network.

 

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities
We hate to talk about them, but it is true that hackers often look for vulnerabilities in software when they are looking to gain access to sensitive information. Usually, when a vulnerability is known to exist, the software vendor issues a patch or update to immediately fix it.

Patching systems is a serious way to improve security systems, they are tested and implemented based on the severity of the potential threat. With Shadow IT, your IT team wouldn’t be able to keep a watchful eye on vital updates and patches that would fix security weaknesses.

 

How do you prevent Shadow IT attacks?

 

Consistent and familiar tools
Using the same tools to test and develop can remove a lot of the sticking points in communication and simplifies any network changes. This is because the same tools will be on everyone’s computers. This also will encourage IT teams to work together and implement changes themselves – rather than passing it onto a coding, development or security specialist.

Having different users with different sets of tools can be prime way new hardware is undetected when added to a business network.

 

Security Software
Building security checks and scans into your IT infrastructure is a great way to ensure complete visibility is available, without it majorly slowing down your team’s day to day computer usage. Finding a IT service company who can implement both for you could be key.

 

Processes
Finally, the best step is having a routine set of processes that your IT team or employees can follow. Combining technology, people and processes gives you the magic formula in stopping Shadow IT and the threats it could pose to your business.

 

Overall, Shadow IT is a major threat. We recommend thinking and addressing it now, before it could become a major problem.

To find out more about how you can protect your business network, get in contact and see how we can help.

If you’re looking to learn more about how your IT systems can be protected. Get in contact with us on 02920 887 362 or send us an email at info@excellence-it.co.uk

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