Why Shadow IT Must Be Considered in Securing an Enterprise

IT management software maker Kaseya claims that recent trends in internal security actually can be an opportunity for strategic-thinking IT organizations.

ShadowIT

2017 was infamous for cybersecurity breaches worldwide. These incidents were at such a global scale, they completely changed the game for organizational vulnerability. Now security is no longer a departmental or team problem but rather an organization-wide concern.

According to Tracy Hernandez, Vice-President of Product Marketing at IT management software maker Kaseya, the recent trends in internal security actually can be an opportunity for strategic-thinking IT organizations.

The topic of shadow IT—and shadow cloud IT—for two examples, have risen in importance for CIOs. Hernandez suggests that organizations accept the fact that unknown apps and devices are being used every day within the enterprise. Hernandez believes that rather than combat rogue agents, infosec admins should work toward enabling IT to have visibility and provide staff with automated endpoint management capabilities so shadow IT does not become the source of entry for vulnerabilities.

In this eWEEK Data Point article, Hernandez offers five tactics that IT must execute in order to better understand the concept of shadow IT and manage it accordingly.

Data Point 1:  Fully Embrace Shadow IT

The concept of shadow IT emerged more than a decade ago as companies began to allow users to personalize their work experience. Early on, IT admins were frightened by this shift in workforce accessibility, wondering if they would: a) lose visibility, and b) lose control of their environments. In today’s world, shadow IT is a fact of life, so instead of fearing and fighting for control of it, IT admins need to admit its presence and form a symbiotic relationship with it.

Data Point 2:  Education

From a cultural perspective, it’s necessary to keep an open line of communication with end users and discuss how they may be contributing to breaches. Ongoing education is necessary, because employees often don’t realize the actions they take can lead to an organizational vulnerability.

For example, a simple unauthorized Skype call can be problematic, because IT might not even know the app is being used. End users simply don’t recognize that what they perceive as everyday business activity can actually expose the company to unnecessary IT risk. It is up to IT leaders to provide education and best practices for its employee base.

Data Point 3:  Better-Fitting Technology

When an organization uses multiple tools for one IT management purpose, such as antivirus, it breeds unnecessary complexity and extraneous work streams, causing the rise of management mistakes and gaps. Most likely these disparate tools do not integrate and fit seamlessly with each other in a dynamic network. Strong integrations or single-platform devices help alleviate this issue.

Data Point 4:  Automate and Govern by Policy

Complete endpoint management that encompasses discovery and management of off-network devices, patching that extends beyond Microsoft to Mac and third-party applications and automation that is scalable and can drive consistency are important here. IT administrators must first have visibility on an automated basis; this includes third-party apps and cloud systems where data could be hidden. This also includes network work traffic flow—even browser extensions, so a management plan can be created—despite the end users adopting technology without IT involvement.

Data Point 5:  Understand that Shadow IT Affects All Organizations, Regardless of Size

With midmarket enterprises, in particular, there is still a cultural idea that cybersecurity does not affect them as much as their larger enterprise counterparts—that bad actors are not looking at them, only the “big guys.” This is a dangerous. Small organizations actually have more to lose, because downtime for them can be catastrophic.

The good news is that solutions are available for midmarket players.

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he...