Shadow IT Explained

22 May 2023 by Technology

Are you concerned about the security of your business’s data? You may have heard the term shadow IT being thrown around, but do you fully understand what it means and how it affects your organization? 

Shadow IT can be a major problem for businesses with sensitive information, as employees unwittingly expose corporate data to outside threats. In this blog post, we'll examine what shadow IT is and discuss why it is such an important issue for businesses to take seriously. We'll also provide guidance on best practices moving forward so that companies are equipped to detect and address potential risks.  

With increased visibility into the use of unauthorized applications within their networks, organizations will be better prepared to maintain a secure environment while still giving users access to new or unapproved programs they need in order to maximize productivity. 

Read on to learn more about why shadow IT should be taken seriously and how best to protect yourself from its risks. 

What is Shadow IT? 

Shadow IT refers to the use of technology systems and software applications within an organization without explicit approval or knowledge from the organization's IT department. It often occurs when employees utilize applications or services that are not authorized or provided by their company, which can present potential risks such as security breaches or compliance issues. 

This can include the use of personal email accounts, messaging apps, or cloud storage services for work-related purposes instead of the officially approved tools. Shadow IT can be a challenge for organizations as it can compromise data security and prevent IT teams from properly monitoring and managing the organization's technological assets. 

Installing unsanctioned software is another example of shadow IT that is becoming increasingly common. Its prevalence is increasing businesses and workers' reliance on unauthorized applications, such as those stored in the cloud.  

Cloud workloads and applications created through personal accounts are prime examples of shadow IT. There are numerous incentives that people have to create and use illicit versions, allowing them to circumvent many compliance regulations.  

Unfortunately, businesses may be unaware of when these programs run on their systems, as they do not keep track of user's activities enough to prevent/control them from happening. Thus, dangers can be posed when domain systems are infiltrated by this type of IT misuse. 

Preventative Measures

When it comes to shadow IT, there are some major potential cons to consider. Security gaps are an ever-increasing concern, putting your data and insider information vulnerable to exposure or leaks.  

Moreover, implementations of shadow IT can cause a lack of standardization and create costly compliance risks for businesses. The high costs associated with updating legacy systems can lead to noteworthy performance bottlenecks when running new applications built on the cloud. 

In order to prevent shadow IT, multiple strategies should be implemented. IT policies should be created and proper support should be provided in accordance to them. Teams should focus on education, communication and collaboration between departments.  

In addition, safeguarded approval processes must be put into place for any developments alongside regular audits. For further assurance, endpoint security monitoring systems, Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) & Application Security Management (ASM) tools must also be instated with regular reviews for increased security. 

Are There Any Benefits to Shadow IT? 

Benefits of shadow IT include increased agility, speed of response to threats & changes, innovation, and employee satisfaction.  

Software decisions don't have to be one size fits all. When teams are given the freedom to choose the best tools for their business needs, they become far more agile. This increased agility results in improved output and drives productivity skyward.  

With the freedom to factor in trends, team demands and cost constraints, they can make an informed decision that is tailored precisely to their needs with little overhead or expense. Insightful software decisions make teams empowered and inclined to take initiative, no matter what difficulties may come their way. 


It is clear that Shadow IT can be a major pain, but the solutions are available to those who take precautions. Establishing the right IT policies, providing proper support and fostering education among teams are all key elements to combating Shadow IT in any business.  

IT standards may vary between businesses and their corresponding departments, so proper collaboration is essential for long-term success. As businesses become more comfortable with technology, it’s important to understand the risks associated with shadow IT. Organizations need unified strategies that don’t leave employees out of the loop if they expect to reign in Shadow IT before it’s too late.  

Remember that knowing is half the battle – if you're knowledgeable about Shadow IT and stay one step ahead of your competition then you’re already on track to achieving digital security and privacy goals. Connect with us today to learn about the solutions that fit your company - together we can make sure your business data stays secure and efficient. 

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