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5 Tips for Managing Shadow IT

5 Tips for Managing Shadow IT

Blog Article Published: 08/11/2022

Originally published by ThirdPartyTrust here.

Written by Sabrina Pagnotta, ThirdPartyTrust.

With remote work exacerbating the use of personal devices, home Wi-Fi networks, and cloud-based services, organizations increasingly face blind spots known as Shadow IT: unsanctioned hardware, services, and apps that put your business at risk.

As employees work remotely, company and personal technology converge, making it important for organizations to get a handle on their Shadow IT issues. Here are the steps you should take to minimize and eliminate your organization’s blindspots.

Managing Shadow IT

The key to reducing Shadow IT is visibility. Over the years, organizations have tried many methods to control the use of unsanctioned technology, but it’s been increasingly hard to ensure that all assets have been accurately reported. Evidence shows that the more people work from home, the more comfortable they get with using unapproved technology to get their job done.

32% of employees are using communication or collaboration tools that aren't explicitly approved by the IT department, and 58% aren’t completely satisfied with their company’s technologies, which is why they turn to Shadow IT.

IT and security leaders need a way to proactively discover Shadow IT across their network, without relying on manual reports or asset tracking, as well as quantify the risk posed by those assets. The following tips can provide enormous value to IT and security leaders.

5 Ways to Reduce Shadow IT

Build a comprehensive policy

When employees incorporate new technologies bypassing IT protocols, they’re not actively trying to create risk; they just want to get their work done or test a new tool. Sometimes they don’t realize even the seemingly smaller installations need to be run through IT, and other times they’re in a hurry.

Document a company-wide policy that’s not perceived as restrictive but protective of the network, and make sure everyone understands that incorporating new apps isn’t necessarily detrimental to the organization, but they must be addressed appropriately.

Read more: Building a Shadow IT Policy

Discover Shadow IT Assets

Leverage purpose-fit solutions and capabilities to discover hidden assets and cloud instances in your network as part of routine security reviews, and bring them into line with your corporate security policies.

This can include automated continuous monitoring, network discovery, and risk assessments to identify areas of concentrated risk, and identify gaps in cloud security controls, such as misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, and unpatched systems.

Empower employees with the right tools

The need to turn to Shadow IT will drastically reduce if your employees already have the tools they need. Ask people what they need regularly -be it communication, productivity, file-sharing, or help desk apps, and incorporate them into your stack.

This will make it easier to roadmap your digital workflows and integrate different technologies to deliver maximum productivity, while keeping your 360° visibility.

Leverage security basics

Complement your Shadow IT policy with essential security measures, such as VPNs, MFA, antivirus, encryption, backup, patch management, user management with the least-privilege principle, etc.

In particular, adopting a zero trust security model, where each user is verified before they connect to the network, ensures they can only access data, networks, and applications for which they have a business need.

Educate your workforce

As remote work expands the attack surface, make sure you include Shadow IT in your cybersecurity training to educate employees about the potential danger of their decisions. Share specific recommendations and best practices, and make them aware that they need to be extended beyond the corporate network and into their homes.

Some of your users may not be aware of the potential security risks that come with downloading an app. Your ultimate goal is to bring everyone up to speed on changing threats and how to protect the organization.

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