Top tips for preventing shadow IT in your business

Top tips for preventing shadow IT in your business

Shadow IT refers to the use of unsanctioned apps, devices, and software within a company without the knowledge and approval of the IT department. Today, most organizations encounter shadow applications in their network — a trend that has only grown amidst the “new norm” of remote work.

Fortunately, with the right policies, tools, and practices in place, you can effectively reduce the risk of shadow IT in the workplace. We explore our top tips for safeguarding your business data while still leveraging the benefits of third-party technologies.

Perform regular network scans

Performing routine network scans allows you to keep a watchful eye on where data comes, goes, and resides — whether this activity is in house, in a remote data center, or in the cloud. These check-ups can help you keep track of any new or unfamiliar devices connected to the network, allowing you to quickly identify any potential sources of shadow IT.

It’s also recommended to monitor your log data from firewalls, SIEMs (security information and event management) systems, and proxies to assess the use of any cloud services beyond your in-house network.

However, keep in mind that not all external IT devices or services pose a risk. Focus on identifying and addressing the most critical threats first to successfully combat the most vulnerable sources of shadow IT.

Have a clear policy around third-party apps and BYOD

The rise of bring your own device (BYOD) culture has granted employees greater flexibility and convenience, with 67% of people now using their personal devices for work. To mitigate the risks of shadow IT, establish a comprehensive BYOD strategy and communicate it transparently with your workforce. Instead of appearing restrictive, the policy should be perceived as protective, safeguarding both employees and the organization.

Maintain a list of approved applications and services deemed secure beyond the default software provided by the company. Implement a system for swift approval or blocking of any new applications introduced by employees. This proactive approach, paired with a well-defined policy, can ensure that any additional tools brought into the organization won't compromise system compatibility or security.

Provide your workers with the right digital tools

Employees will typically turn to external technologies not to create risk, but to enhance their productivity and efficiency. By offering employees all the essential digital tools they need from the outset, you can reduce their reliance on third-party applications and services. Keep your employees aware of the wide array of software options available for project management, collaboration, productivity, and remote file sharing, and have these tools readily accessible within your in-house digital ecosystem.

Additionally, consider having extensive security controls and policies in place to protect company data on lost or stolen devices. This minimizes the chances of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.

Enhance cybersecurity awareness in the workplace

Finally, one of the most effective ways of preventing shadow IT is by regularly educating your employees on the latest cybersecurity trends, risks, and best practices. Begin by imparting the basics, such as exercising good password hygiene and identifying common phishing scams. Reinforce the importance of essential security tools such as VPNs, multifactor authentication, encryption, and routine backup procedures.

You should also ensure that all employees are well-versed in the common security risks associated with using unprotected devices and apps outside of the corporate network. Consider equipping them with the right tools to effectively combat these risks and protect their data off premises. With a cybersecurity-aware workplace culture, you’ll not only protect your workplace from the risks of shadow IT but against all other popular forms of cybercrime as well.

As online threats continue to grow, it pays to have the right security tools, policies, and training in place. Our experienced team can help you implement the proactive measures necessary to shield your data from third-party risks. Protect your business and get in touch today.