June 9, 2022

Shadow IT exploded during the pandemic, putting your cybersecurity at higher risk

Photo for Shadow IT exploded during the pandemic, putting your cybersecurity at higher risk
The pandemic created a perfect storm for shadow IT to run wild. Businesses scrambled to allow operations to continue with many more remote workers. Moving fast to keep people working, doing anything to keep business open and meet goals included bypassing IT to deploy new unsanctioned services, applications, and endpoints. Those actions were seen as necessary and noble, but they also opened up security vulnerabilities and budget overages.

What is shadow IT and why is it so harmful?

Shadow IT is when your team procures and uses hardware, software, or services (like telecom connectivity) without the knowledge or approval from your IT department. Yes, it happens.

IT departments are often stretched thin trying to manage all the services and applications you need to stay competitive and successful. Especially with the increase of digital transformation, IT departments are busier than ever, shouldering increased responsibility in every business. Plus, employees with a business credit card and cloud apps can purchase a service for the company without needing IT approval. It’s easier than ever for someone to bypass procurement and approval processes — 80% of workers frankly admit they bypass IT and use unsanctioned cloud services.

Shadow IT creates a budgeting nightmare. What is being purchased to support IT needs? How much of the yearly budget needs to be allocated for IT? These answers can be impossible to answer when the IT team is left out of the purchasing decisions. Bypassing typical procurement processes usually means overpaying for services.

When properly managed, IT procurement can be properly allocated and earmarked to the IT department — allowing you full insight into the true cost of technology.

Infographic showing 80% of workers admit to using non-approved SaaS applications in their jobs

Shadow IT also leads to serious security vulnerabilities

When firms were doing anything possible to keep teams working during the pandemic, they often skipped the steps needed to ensure new services and providers were secured and compliant. Evaluations and verification of the new service provider’s network were bypassed — not to mention the third-party network of vendors, customers, partners, and supplies — ignoring industry best practices. Adding a new service provider gives hackers crucial new access points to target your organization.

Adding to the danger, if the IT department is not consulted or aware of new software or services being added — like a new SaaS app — the employee adding it may not be able to competently set up and configure the application. Net result: data exposed, available for hackers to steal.

Finally, with privacy and compliance laws now in place, especially for healthcare companies or companies doing business in California or the European Union, the need for careful implementation and verification that all new services and software meet regulatory requirements to store personal data correctly is paramount. Neglect can mean expensive fines.

Photo of a hacker using shadow IT to steal data

Partner with experts who can shine a light on your shadow IT to keep you secure

Without a full professional audit of the software and services you use, it will be impossible to determine the full scope of your shadow IT vulnerabilities. That’s why businesses partner with FiberWave — we have a term of experts who specialize in uncovering all the services and software you have, used or unused.

After a full audit, you’ll get a detailed evaluation of each service and software: are they properly configured, following all privacy, data, and compliance laws? Is every provider — and their network of providers — following best practices for security? Which vulnerabilities can be addressed so your IT team can be fully aware of all the services and software you need to continually monitor going forward.

FiberWave works with hundreds of clients to manage and address shadow IT. Your IT team may not have the resources or time to go through a full audit and evaluation; we do. With FiberWave on your team, your IT department can remain focused on crucial day-to-day roles and projects.  Let’s talk about it.