While most cybersecurity threats come from outside the business, shadow IT is a prime example of how employees, supervisors, and anyone connected to a business’ network can put the company at risk. It may be tempting for employees to use the devices they are most familiar with at home or in the office, but without the proper screening by IT, this can cause huge problems for the network’s cybersecurity. Luckily, reducing the amount of shadow IT activity on your network can be easy.
What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT refers to when employees, contractors, or other people on your network connect and use devices that have not been screened and approved by the company’s IT team. For smaller businesses, this can also refer to using devices that have not been properly secured with the company’s standard endpoint protection, VPN, or other security tools. Shadow IT is exceptionally difficult for small business owners or IT teams to notice because technology has become easier for people to use, and there are plenty of ways to give little or no indication that a new device is operating on the network when someone is working from home.
How can Shadow IT Cause Harm?
Because shadow IT activity can be hard to detect, it will often go unnoticed for long periods of time or never get discovered at all. This means that while an unsecured device operates on the business’ network, malicious actors have an unsecured attack point that your business does not know about. If the employee uses the device for personal activity as well, then the risk of a security breach increases dramatically. The user could pick up malware while browsing for personal content, and that malware will then be able to slip into your network and not be noticed until it has caused serious damage.
Mitigating Shadow IT
By its very nature, shadow IT activity is difficult to detect, but businesses can take steps to make it less likely to happen. A business should talk to their managed service provider (MSP) about ways they can improve their authentication process for user and device identities. This way, it becomes more difficult for an unauthorized device to access the network, even if it’s being used by a trusted employee. Additionally, company’s can highlight shadow IT activity in their training and make their users aware of how dangerous it can be. Adequate training can go a long way in reducing shadow IT activities because most employees are working in good faith and do not want to harm the company.
Your IT team can never say with absolute certainty that no shadow IT activity is occurring on your network, but any steps taken to limit the use of unsecured devices on your network significantly reduces the attack surface available to malicious actors. If your company needs more training material on how to protect against shadow IT or the right MSP to get you the security services you need, then Robinett Consulting wants to help. Our team of security specialists are always ready for your call, so we can get you operating with personalized cybersecurity services!