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‘Shadow IT’ – How to Reduce the Risks and Costs

An executive at your organization streams music from a service on his office computer. Another executive uses a personal file-sharing site to store some of her work files. Another employee tracks sales and promotions sent to his personal email service while he’s working at your office. None of these team members went through IT to do this. Yet all these personal internet connections constitute risks to your company’s data security – especially as they may be practices your IT team doesn’t know about.

As technology advances rapidly, businesses are witnessing the rise of “shadow IT,” a phenomenon where employees adopt unapproved software and services without the knowledge or oversight of the IT department. This alarming trend poses significant challenges to organizations, ranging from compliance issues to potential data breaches and compromised network security.

At ImageQuest, we understand the seriousness of shadow IT and its potential implications for your business. With our expertise in IT asset management and security, we’ve witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects shadow IT can have on companies of all sizes. That’s why we’re here to share valuable insights and solutions to help you regain control over your technology landscape.

Establishing a robust IT steering committee is the key to addressing shadow IT. This committee, comprising key stakeholders and IT professionals, plays a crucial role in understanding the organization’s technology landscape, identifying shadow IT instances, and implementing appropriate governance measures. By having an IT steering committee in place, you can proactively monitor and control the usage of unauthorized applications, ensuring compliance with security protocols and minimizing potential risks.

Book a consultation with us today, and let’s embark on a journey to uncover and mitigate the risks of shadow IT. Together, we’ll ensure your organization’s security, productivity, and strategic direction.

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What Is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT refers to the use of unauthorized software, services, or devices within an organization without the knowledge or approval of the IT department. It often arises from employees seeking solutions to their specific needs and challenges without considering the potential risks it poses to the organization’s cybersecurity and compliance measures. It also happens because employees feel their requests to the IT department aren’t considered in a timely fashion. Common examples of shadow IT include downloading and using applications or cloud services that the IT department does not officially sanction.

Shadow IT can also refer to devices added to an employee’s workstation without consent from the IT department, such as mechanical keyboards. While employees may adopt these tools with good intentions, they often do so without considering the security and governance implications. Without proper monitoring and control, shadow IT can give rise to numerous risks, such as data loss, increased vulnerability to cyber attacks, and non-compliance with industry regulations. These hidden applications and services can compromise your corporate network’s integrity, exposing sensitive data and your business objectives at stake.

What Problems Does Shadow IT Present to an Organization?

A frustrated business man with his hand on his head looking at his laptop.Shadow IT can create various problems for organizations, encompassing cybersecurity, compliance, and compatibility issues. Here’s a closer look at some of the key challenges that arise from shadow IT:

  • Cybersecurity Risks: Unauthorized applications and services may lack necessary security measures, increasing the organization’s vulnerability to data breaches, malware, and other cyber threats.
  • Compliance Concerns: Using unsanctioned software and services often leads to non-compliance with industry regulations and data protection laws, putting the organization at risk of penalties and legal consequences.
  • Compatibility Conflicts: Shadow IT can result in conflicts between different software or systems, hindering seamless integration and collaboration across departments.
  • Data Loss and Leakage: Unmonitored external apps and thumb drives increase the risk of sensitive or competitive data being copied or moved outside the organization’s secure infrastructure, especially by disgruntled or departing employees.
  • Reduced Productivity: Inconsistent or incompatible tools disrupt workflow efficiency and hinder productivity, resulting in wasted time and resources.
  • Uncontrolled IT cost: When your team is using several unapproved solutions, the conflicts can cause headaches and delays as your IT team tries to resolve issues. Plus, employees may be expensing these solutions because they are “work-related.”

How to Identify if Shadow IT Is Present in Your Company

You know your company has shadow IT if you observe the following examples:

  • Employees consistently use personal cloud storage accounts or email addresses for work-related purposes.
  • The presence of unrecognized or unfamiliar applications that are being used by individuals or teams without the IT department’s knowledge.
  • Instances of employees bypassing IT-approved software or services and adopting alternative solutions.
  • Frequent compatibility issues or conflicts exist between different software applications or tools being used within the organization.
  • The use of unofficial communication channels or collaboration platforms not authorized or monitored by the IT department.

Identifying these indicators can help you understand the extent of shadow IT within your organization and its potential risks. But what do you do if you notice these signs? Besides re-educating your employees on cybersecurity and compliance requirements, one solution is to form an IT steering committee. Let’s examine their role and how they can help control shadow IT.

What Is an IT Steering Committee?

An IT steering committee is a strategic advisory group that oversees and guides the organization’s technology initiatives, including managing and mitigating the risks associated with shadow IT. This committee comprises key stakeholders, IT professionals, representatives from different departments, and a trusted cybersecurity and IT compliance expert, like ImageQuest.

What Are an IT Steering Committee’s Roles and Responsibilities?

A group of business workers sitting around a table discussing IT strategy.The roles and responsibilities of an IT steering committee include:

  • Setting strategic direction and goals for technology implementation and governance.
  • Establishing policies, procedures, and guidelines to manage IT assets and ensure compliance.
  • Assessing and evaluating emerging technologies, including their potential risks and benefits.
  • Identifying and addressing shadow IT instances and developing strategies to mitigate associated risks.
  • Collaborating with the internal IT team to align technology initiatives with business objectives.
  • Ensuring adequate resources and budgets for IT projects, prioritizing investments based on organizational needs.
  • Monitoring and reporting on the performance and effectiveness of IT systems and security measures.

How Can a Technology Steering Committee Help Control Shadow IT?

Organizations gain valuable insights and strategies to effectively control and mitigate shadow IT risks by establishing an IT steering committee. The committee helps in the following ways:

  • Enhanced Visibility: The committee provides a comprehensive view of all technology initiatives, allowing for better identification and management of shadow IT instances.
  • Policy Development: It establishes clear policies and guidelines for technology usage, ensuring employees have access to approved and secure tools.
  • Education and Awareness: The committee promotes education and awareness programs to help employees understand the risks of shadow IT and the proper channels for technology adoption.
  • Collaborative Governance: By involving stakeholders from different departments, the committee fosters collaboration and ensures technology decisions align with business objectives while addressing concerns across the organization.
  • Strategic Planning: The committee helps prioritize technology investments, ensuring they align with the organization’s long-term goals and provide maximum value.

Will the Information Technology Steering Committee Undermine Our Internal IT Team?

No, an IT steering committee does not undermine the internal IT team. Rather, it works hand in hand with the existing IT department to strengthen its voice and enhance its capabilities. The committee collaborates closely with the internal IT team, leveraging their expertise and insights to guide technology decision-making and ensure alignment with the organization’s goals. It provides additional support and resources to the IT department, empowering them to implement effective cybersecurity measures, address shadow IT challenges, and drive strategic technology initiatives.

At ImageQuest, we understand the importance of collaboration between departments. We will help you set up an IT steering committee, to include members of your internal IT team, so you can work together to overcome challenges, , enhance security measures, and achieve your business objectives.

How ImageQuest Can Help Your Business

At ImageQuest, we specialize in providing comprehensive solutions to help your business effectively address the risks and challenges posed by shadow IT. With our expertise in cybersecurity and IT compliance, we offer the following services:

  1. IT Steering Committee Formation: We can assist you in establishing an IT steering committee tailored to your organization’s needs. Our experts will guide you through the process, ensuring the right stakeholders are involved, and the committee’s roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.
  2. Shadow IT Assessment and Detection: Our team will conduct a thorough assessment to identify and analyze instances of shadow IT within your organization. By leveraging advanced tools and methodologies, we can provide valuable insights into the extent of shadow IT and the associated risks.
  3. Policy Development and Governance: We will work closely with your IT department and the steering committee to develop robust policies and governance frameworks. These guidelines will help ensure technology usage aligns with security measures, compliance requirements, and strategic objectives.
  4. Education and Awareness Programs: We understand the importance of employee awareness in mitigating shadow IT risks. Our customized training programs will educate your workforce about the dangers of shadow IT and the proper channels for technology adoption within the organization.
  5. Collaborative Solutions: Our IT experts will collaborate with your internal IT team to implement technical solutions that control and monitor shadow IT. These shadow IT solutions include deploying advanced security measures, implementing centralized software management systems, and integrating approved cloud services.

By partnering with ImageQuest, you can gain the expertise and support needed to establish an effective IT steering committee and proactively manage shadow IT risks. Don’t let hidden vulnerabilities compromise your cybersecurity and hinder your business growth. Reach out to us today for a consultation and take the first step towards a secure and compliant technology landscape.

Need to Get Started on a Shadow IT Solution? Book Your Consultation!

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, the emergence of shadow IT poses significant challenges to businesses. Employees’ unauthorized use of software, services, and devices can lead to cybersecurity risks, compliance issues, and compatibility conflicts. However, there is a solution at hand: an IT steering committee.

Don’t let shadow IT compromise your data security and hinder your growth. Take action now and book a consultation with our experts at ImageQuest. Let us guide you toward a secure and compliant technology landscape that enables your business to thrive.

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