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Shadow IT: Why It’s Bad For Your Business

author-img By Deepanwita Dey 5 Mins Read 11 September 2023

Shadow IT

The shadow world, while often underestimated, carries both the promise of high rewards and the potential for significant risks. This parallel can be aptly applied to the realm of shadow IT

But what exactly does it entail? 

Shadow IT encompasses any technological tools, software, or systems employed within an organization without the formal sanction or awareness of the IT department.

Let me give you an example…

You’re in a corporation where you’re given a set of standard tools to work with. However, you find a nifty app that makes your job ten times easier. Sneakily, you install it on your computer. 

Congratulations, you’ve just contributed to Shadow IT.

So, Why Should You Care About It?

Now, you might be thinking, “So what’s the big deal?” Well, here’s the kicker: Shadow IT can pose a significant risk to your organization. 

Think about security breaches, data leaks, and compliance nightmares. When systems operate outside of IT’s purview, it’s like leaving the back door unlocked. 

You never know who might stroll in.

The Roots of Shadow IT: Why Does It Happen?

Curiosity killed the cat, they say. In the world of tech, the same fuels Shadow IT. 

Sometimes, it’s just easier or faster to grab that new app you heard about, rather than navigating the bureaucratic maze for official approval. It’s not that employees are trying to undermine the system; they’re just trying to get the job done efficiently.

Types of Shadow IT

1. SaaS Solutions: The App Epidemic

Ever heard of Dropbox, Slack, or Trello? These are classic examples of SaaS (Software as a Service) tools that can easily slip into an organization under the radar. 

They promise seamless collaboration and productivity, but if not properly managed, they can turn into compliance headaches.

2. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): Your Best Friend’s Worst Enemy

BYOD policies allow employees to use personal devices for work purposes. 

While this can boost flexibility and productivity, it can also be a Pandora’s box of security concerns. Unsecured devices accessing company data? Yikes.

3. Shadow Cloud Services: The Silent Invaders

Have you ever uploaded a file to Google Drive or iCloud for work purposes? Bingo! You’ve just contributed to Shadow Cloud Services. 

These are personalized cloud storage solutions that employees might utilize for work-related documents, often without realizing the potential security risks.

The Risks of Shadow IT: Why is It Bad for a Business?

In the realm of business empires, safeguarding what you’ve built is paramount. 

However, there exists a subtle yet potent danger known as Shadow IT, stealthily undermining your operations. Here, we will uncover the perils of Shadow IT and elucidate why it demands your vigilant attention. So, settle in with a cup of coffee, and let’s unravel this hidden menace.

1: The Seductive Allure of Convenience

Picture this: your marketing team is struggling with a slow file-sharing system. In a moment of frustration, someone discovers a sleek, new solution that promises lightning-fast transfers. 

Tempting, right? But wait, did they check with IT? 

Probably not. And this is how Shadow IT sneaks in – offering seemingly convenient shortcuts without considering the bigger security picture.

2: Security Breaches: A Ticking Time Bomb

Certainly, let’s address the prominent concern at hand: security breaches. 

When you sidestep your IT department, you’re essentially inviting potential cyber threats. Unverified software may conceal weaknesses that malicious actors are poised to capitalize on. 

I can assure you, that facing a data breach with your clients or navigating the ensuing legal repercussions is an experience best avoided.

3: Regulatory Compliance Nightmares

Remember all those regulations and compliance standards you’re obligated to follow? Shadow IT can put you in hot water faster than you can say GDPR. 

Unauthorized software might not meet the necessary compliance requirements, leaving you exposed to hefty fines and legal consequences. It’s a risk not worth taking.

4: Budget Blowout: The Hidden Costs

Sure, that unsanctioned software may have seemed like a budget-friendly solution at first. But the truth is, it could be the Trojan horse that blows your budget wide open. 

Unapproved applications often come with several hidden costs like licensing fees, integration expenses, and maintenance overheads. Before you know it, that budget-friendly tool becomes a financial black hole.

5: Integration Headaches: The Frankenstein Effect

One of the beauties of a well-orchestrated IT infrastructure is the seamless integration of various systems. However, when Shadow IT is thrown into the mix, you risk creating a digital Frankenstein. Incompatible software can lead to productivity bottlenecks, data silos, and a whole lot of frustration for your team.

6: Loss of Control: Who’s Driving This Ship?

When Shadow IT is left to thrive without oversight, it’s akin to surrendering authority over your technological environment. The knowledge of –

  • Which software is in play, 
  • How it’s being administered, and 
  • Whether it meets security standards becomes a mystery. 

It’s quite akin to entrusting your business’s keys to an unknown party — a potential recipe for catastrophe.

7: The Productivity Paradox

Ironically, what was intended to boost productivity can end up doing the exact opposite. 

Unapproved software might lack the necessary support and updates, leading to downtime and inefficiencies. Your team could find themselves stuck in a maze of workarounds, trying to make incompatible systems play nice.

8: The Road to Redemption: Taking Control of Shadow IT

Now that we’ve laid bare the risks, it’s time to take action. Start by fostering a culture of transparency and open communication within your organization. 

Encourage your team to consult IT before adopting new technology. Regularly review your IT policies to ensure they align with the evolving needs of your business.

So, Should You Use It or Avoid It?

Alright, enough doom and gloom. 

There’s hope! 

You can combat Shadow IT by fostering a culture of transparency and communication within your organization. Encourage your team to come forward with the apps and tools they need, and work together to find secure, approved solutions.

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Deepanwita Dey

Deepanwita has always considered writing as the ultimate weapon to share every thought an individual ambles through. For her writing is not just an activity it’s a motivation for the scarred mind. She loves writing in genres like fashion, lifestyle, literature etc.

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