What is Shadow IT?

Most people are well aware of how cybercriminals are operating these days. However, it appears the problems are a lot bigger than most experts give it credit for. A new type of Information Technology threat has appeared, which is dubbed as “Shadow IT”. This sector revolves around rogue applications which are designed to infiltrate entire computer networks by “aiding” employees in interfacing with cloud-based services

Shadow IT Should Not Be Underestimated

A lot of companies are pivoting their business model to put more focus on cloud-based services. That change is not entirely surprising, considering not every business can operate its own data center. Unfortunately, shifting to the cloud has also created a whole new set of problems. Employees have somehow gotten their hands on “unsanctioned” applications making their jobs a lot easier. In most cases, these rogue applications seemingly facilitate interfacing with the new cloud service used by the company.

To be more specific, it is believed there are about eight dozen unsanctioned cloud applications active in the enterprise sector right now. That number surprises quite a lot of enterprise experts, even though it is possible there are even more rogue apps in circulation right now. Unofficial Shadow IT reports indicate there may be as many as one thousand malicious data-stealing cloud applications available to enterprises all over the world.

Although this threat is not entirely new, it appears companies have more issues to deal with as of right now. The first generation of rogue cloud apps has finally been nipped in the bud, yet it appears custom applications developed in-house by companies are quickly becoming the new norm. A new report by Skyhigh networks shows how the average organization uses around 400 custom applications. However, security engineers and DevOps are only aware of one in three custom applications being used.

This begs the question what types of applications are being used in the enterprise sector outside of those developed by the companies themselves. Since most of these applications are not going through a security review stage, it is impossible to tell what may happen. Unfortunately, employees have no issues passing sensitive information through these custom apps, regardless of who they are developed by. That in itself is a very troublesome habit, as it can potentially expose information to malicious individuals.

Considering how there are so many Shadow IT solutions developed without explicit organizational approval, it is not hard to see why this problem is such a big threat. While one can commend individual enterprise departments to develop their own apps, there is a good reason why companies employ IT staffers in the first place. Then again, these Shadow IT apps often introduce the foundation for future innovation, despite them posing significant risks. It is a very tough balancing act for enterprises, to say the least.

There are many drawbacks to using Shadow IT applications in the enterprise sector outside of having data stolen, though. In most cases, it leads to wasted time, as Shadow IT brings hidden costs to the balance sheet. Additionally, these apps may turn out to be inefficient, which is never a positive trait. Eventually, the vast majority of Shadow IT applications leads to organizational dysfunction. Animosity between the IT and non-IT departments will never be beneficial to day-to-day operations. There are always people looking to take advantage of Shadow IT, yet the biggest threats may reside among a company’s own employees.

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