How to Mitigate the Negative Effects of Shadow IT

Your company may fear shadow IT because it limits its visibility into the applications on your network. Many organizations take the easiest path, which is to ban the use of any unapproved applications. However, this strategy may prove ineffective and even limit the productivity of your people.

Employees typically install unapproved applications because they’re trying to be more productive, not for any malicious reason. Still, these applications present a security risk, since it’s likely that employees will occasionally send sensitive information using these mediums — leaving IT with no way to mitigate risk.

This situation presents your IT team with a challenge. How can they ensure that the company’s network remains secure while empowering employees to do their best work?

Bring Balance to Your Shadow IT Mitigation

Most CIOs and IT professionals recognize that they will inevitably have a certain amount of shadow IT. But, when there is a culture of transparency and flexibility, it encourages employees to work with IT and bring this situation under control. If employees know that they will not be listened to and the company will block their efforts, they are unlikely to communicate their application needs. How can your business counteract this tendency?

The first step is to open the doors of communication. Show employees that you’re listening by integrating applications when possible and educating them on alternatives when it’s not. This attention to their needs will confirm your company is listening and reduce the number of employees who work around the company’s security policies.

Business leaders should also acknowledge that shadow IT can be a symptom of employees who feel that they don’t have all the tools they need. Instead of reprimanding them, IT can strive to figure out why they work around security policies. This understanding will help them implement controls that allow applications to be used with certain safeguards.

Team talking about how to control Shadow IT

Using policies and software to manage apps that aren’t part of your organization’s tech stack is a great way to mitigate shadow IT. It has the two-fold benefit of showing employees you care about their needs and helping them improve productivity. While enabling some applications will be impossible, there are many instances where IT leaders can say yes.

Your team can limit shadow IT risk by using software controls that limit the access of certain applications. For example, IT can enable employees to download from a particular platform without letting users upload files. This allows users to access necessary documents from business partners and customers while ensuring sensitive information isn’t shared on that platform.

Another way to protect against shadow IT risk is to control which instances of applications employees can access. For example, you can allow employees to access their corporate Google account while restricting access to a personal account where they could accidentally upload sensitive data.

Creating a culture of transparency and integration is a great goal. However, it’s essential that your team have the tools they need to detect and isolate shadow IT applications that are a security risk for your organization. Your tech stack should include software that helps IT monitor the network to identify possible security gaps. When your team and software work in unison, IT will have the visibility and control they need to ensure security requirements are met.

Collaborate with IT Leaders to Empower Your Employees

Disconnects between IT and business leaders can inhibit your team’s ability to support employee needs. This reality makes it essential for your company to include IT in important business conversations, especially those that have to do with computing infrastructure and applications. IT can then communicate the shortcomings they perceive in the organization’s systems and tools.

Shadow IT shouldn’t be shut down without a thought. Acting this way can have a damaging effect on employee productivity and morale. Instead, companies should find a way to open up communication and embrace a culture where shadow IT can be approved and secured.

CIOs are pivotal in fostering collaboration between IT and employees. They safeguard the company through carefully developed procedures without making security feel like a dystopian overlord. However, you may realize that you lack the necessary cloud tools to empower employees. OneNeck can help you integrate needed technologies into your tech stack securely and ensure they are ready to scale as needed. Contact us to learn more.

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