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Take Action Now: Uncover Shadow IT Risks & Protect Your Business

Learn how Shadow IT can cause security risks & how to protect against it from this must-read article. Read on & uncover the untold truths now!

Shadow IT has been a growing phenomenon in the corporate world and understandably so - it provides an avenue for quick, easy and cost-efficient access to applications and programs that organizations could not otherwise obtain. However, not all that glitters is gold. The risks associated with Shadow IT are often overlooked and underestimated. Through this article, we’ll explore what the risks are and how to avoid them, so you can maximize the benefits while minimizing potential risks.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of Shadow IT
  3. Adverse Effects of Shadow IT
  4. Risks Involved with Shadow IT
  5. Tools & Techniques used to Identify & Manage Shadow IT
  6. Creating Awareness in Organization about Shadow IT
  7. Remedies & Mitigation Steps
  8. Summary & Conclusion

  1. Introduction

Introduction Shadow IT has become a ubiquitous reality in most enterprises today. It refers to the use of non-sanctioned applications such as cloud-based services and apps that are used without approval. This phenomenon typically occurs under the radar and can present countless risks to the organization. It is incredibly easy to set up and run such applications which further amplifies the risks.

In this blog post, we will take a close look at the risks associated with Shadow IT and the potential impact on organizations if not managed properly. We will examine the types of shadow IT, their adverse effects, the risks involved, and the tools and techniques used to identify and manage them. We will also look at how awareness amongst employees can help limit use of such applications and the mitigation measures that can be put in place to protect the organization. In the end, we will draw a conclusion of the importance of Shadow IT management in the enterprise.

  1. Types of Shadow IT

When it comes to evaluating the risks of Shadow IT within an organization, it's essential to know the types of Shadow IT that exist. This section will detail the various categories and sub-categories of shadow IT that can be harmful to the operations of a business.

Cloud Services: One of the most common types of Shadow IT is cloud services, such as file sharing platforms or cloud-based storage solutions. These services are typically accessed via the Internet without the company's IT team knowing about it. They can be used by external sources, resulting in the potential to leak company data.

Social Networking Platforms: Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are also popular choices for Shadow IT. Employees can use these sites to communicate with outside colleagues and distribute sensitive information.

User Downloaded Software: Another common form of Shadow IT is user-downloaded software, such as games or productivity tools. These applications can be used to perform various tasks, but the problem here is that the programs can bypass any checkpoints and put the company at risk of malware and other cyber threats.

Bring-Your-Own-Devices (BYOD): Finally, the practice of allowing employees to bring their own devices to work is also a form of Shadow IT. This can open up the possibility of unapproved devices being used to access company data, or even malware spreading from one device to another.

  1. Adverse Effects of Shadow IT

Shadow IT, also known as Stealth IT, can have a major impact on an organization’s ability to remain productive and secure. It reflects an organization’s lack of control over various types of technology assets and the risks that are associated with them. The absence of control and visibility of Shadow IT systems can lead to a number of negative consequences.

The adverse effects of Shadow IT can be both broad and deep depending on the system and the nature of the unauthorized/unapproved activity. Apart from a severe degradation of system performance, some of the major adverse effects include:

• Loss of Data and Intellectual Property: Unmonitored, vulnerable systems may lead to exposure and eventual theft of confidential data, source code, designs, and other Intellectual Property (IP).

• Compliance Risks: Unauthorized and unregulated systems may be used to access data and documents which are out of compliance with industry standards or regulations, increasing the risk of hefty fines and / or penalties

• Network Security Threats: A breach in one of the Shadow IT systems may prove to be vulnerable to cyber attacks and can lead to large-scale damage and loss of data.

• Depreciation of Software & Hardware: Unexpected and unnecessary upgrades can lead to an overall depreciation of existing software and hardware, leading to a drain in resources.

• Higher Operating Costs: Continued usage of unsafe and unsupported systems can lead to higher operational costs due to multiple logins and redundant maintenance processes.

• Productivity Inefficiencies: Unauthorized utilization of Shadow IT can lead to misuse of resources, cause distractions, and hamper productivity.

To conclude, the presence of Shadow IT can lead to serious consequences like data loss, legal trouble and security risks that can be detrimental to the success of any organization. Therefore, appropriate measures need to be taken to identify, assess, and manage the risks associated with Shadow IT.

  1. Risks Involved with Shadow IT

Shadow IT is a major source of risks for organizations, as it bypasses the traditional security procedures that are put in place by organizations. Shadow IT typically takes the form of employees using unauthorized online services, downloading applications from the web, and downloading unsanctioned software on their personal devices.

The main risks from Shadow IT are security /data breaches and potential data losses. Shadow IT often introduces applications that can be insecure or not properly patched and can easily be exploited by hackers for information. This could lead to a variety of data losses or even the complete infiltration of a company's systems. It also fails to follow the company's security protocols, making an attacker’s job even easier.

Moreover, Shadow IT also raises compliance issues such as non-compliance with the company's policies. For example, personal applications used for work-related tasks are often not compliant with internal security standards and can violate local laws, regulations, and licenses.

Finally, Shadow IT can create a lack of visibility for IT and other departments and can make it difficult to track activity. Without visibility, IT teams have no idea what applications are installed on users’ devices and if they are being effectively monitored, managed, and updated. This can pose a huge problem for organizations if their IT teams are not aware of where the data is stored.

  1. Tools & Techniques used to Identify & Manage Shadow IT

Shadow IT, or the usage of unsanctioned technology, can present a significant risk to businesses. Unmanaged Shadow IT proliferates without an organization’s knowledge and can open up avenues of vulnerability and compliance issues, especially as more data and more secure data are stored on the cloud.

Therefore, the organization needs to begin to identify and manage Shadow IT. While uncovering and managing Shadow IT used to require a cumbersome manual approach, researchers and vendors are now developing tools and techniques to help businesses detect and manage Shadow IT.

One of the most effective ways to locate Shadow IT systems and the data housed in them is through regular asset scanning. Every device, server, application, and network is subjected to an intrusive scan. This allows a company to build an inventory of systems that were previously unknown or deemed inactive.

For example, some types of asset scanning may monitor web traffic, logins, and data leakage. They can also check outdated software, hidden logs, and other configurations. With a comprehensive asset scan, a company can identify systems, services, and applications that the organization did not know were running.

Another tool to consider is a software usage analysis tool. Many companies use this to detect Shadow IT by looking at software assets, licenses, and unapproved programs. The tool allows an organization to uncover individual software or applications that weren’t officially approved.

In addition, companies can use AI-powered analytics to detect Shadow IT. The analytics engine is trained to identify and analyze abnormal traffic patterns, enabling it to quickly detect and alert security administrators about Shadow IT.

These tools and techniques, when implemented correctly, can help identify and manage Shadow IT. They go a long way in identifying and addressing the potential risks and vulnerabilities of Shadow IT, allowing a company to maintain its data security in the long run.

  1. Creating Awareness in Organization about Shadow IT


Shadow IT is an imminent threat to an organization, as it can lead to data losses, security breaches, and numerous other risks. To avert such risks, every organization must create awareness about Shadow IT amongst its workforce. The goal of creating awareness is to make sure employees are aware of the potential risks posed by Shadow IT, and take necessary steps to mitigate them.

Types of Awareness:

Creating awareness about Shadow IT can be carried out in a variety of ways. Here are of the most effective and commonly used methods of creating awareness:

  1. Training & Sensitization Sessions: Training sessions are the best way to educate the staff about the risks of Shadow IT. The sessions should be interactive and should focus on the negative aspects associated with Shadow IT, and how it can be avoided.

  2. Seminar: Organization should conduct seminars on Shadow IT from time-to-time. It would be an ideal platform to spread awareness and knowledge about Shadow IT and its perils.

  3. Newsletters & Circulars: Frequent newsletters and circulars must be circulated amongst the team members to remind and spread awareness about Shadow IT and its risks.

Advantages of Awareness:

Creating awareness about Shadow IT in an organization has numerous benefits. Following are some of the most noted advantages of creating awareness about Shadow IT:

  1. Reduced Security Risks: By creating awareness, organizations can minimise the risk associated with Shadow IT. By training the staff to identify and report Shadow IT usage, companies can significantly reduce the chances of data and security leakages.

  2. Timely Detection: Regular awareness programs can help in detecting Shadow IT activities in time. By providing members of the organization with tools to identify Shadow IT, a comprehensive security framework can be established.

  3. Compliance: By creating awareness, organizations can also avoid non-compliance penalties imposed by various regulatory bodies.


Creating awareness about Shadow IT amongst the employees is essential to secure the organization from potential risks. The goal of awareness should be to educate employees about the possible threats associated with Shadow IT, and how to mitigate them. While it is important to educate the staff, it is equally important to provide them the right tools and resources to detect and report Shadow IT activities. By creating a strong awareness and security framework, an organization should be able to effectively mitigate the risks posed by Shadow IT.

  1. Remedies & Mitigation Steps

Once a business has identified the issue of Shadow IT within their organization, they should develop a plan of action for remedies and mitigation measures. This step is essential in order to ensure that the risks, such as data breaches and network outages, associated with Shadow IT are preventable.

Businesses should aim to balance the need for technological innovation while still maintaining security by implementing remedies and mitigation steps that are tailored to their needs. One simple mitigation step that businesses should do is to collaborate with their IT teams to create and deploy applications that empower employees to do their jobs while mitigating risk. This could involve creating or deploying applications that employees can use in a secure environment while still incorporating personal preferences. Additionally, businesses can encourage employees to report to IT departments any unauthorized or questionable applications and services that they use.

Another mitigation step is to ensure that employees are aware of the policies and protocols around acceptable technological use and that employees have access to the security training they need. It is also important that businesses protect their systems against ransomware attacks by regularly backing-up supporting documents and applications. Finally, businesses should ensure that cloud service providers are set up to comply with internal data security and privacy policies.

By following these remedies and mitigation steps, businesses can greatly reduce the risks associated with Shadow IT. These steps not only allow businesses to maximize innovation while still keeping their data and networks secure, but they also allow businesses to have peace of mind that they are taking the necessary steps to ensure they can mitigate and prevent any risks that might arise from Shadow IT.

  1. Summary & Conclusion