Employees using unauthorized cloud applications isn’t anything new, but the pandemic-fueled increase in remote workers has caused shadow IT to become a bigger issue for businesses.
When employees are using unapproved applications for work it can leave your business data vulnerable, cause your cloud costs to balloon, and lead to broken and inefficient processes.
Think that unauthorized app use isn’t a big problem at your company? You may be surprised just how much shadow IT use there is. In a survey cited by McAfee, 80% of employees admitted to using SaaS apps at work, many without express permission.
Some of the examples of unauthorized app use for business data include:
- Email applications
- Messaging apps
- Video conferencing apps
- Cloud storage services
- Collaboration tools
- File transfer and sharing services
It’s estimated that shadow cloud use is 10x the size of known cloud use.
How can you monitor systems you’re unaware of? How do you protect or back up data in a cloud app that you don’t even know about? Therein lies the big risk of shadow IT use and why companies need to get a handle on it.
Get Your Cloud Use Under Control
It’s best to be proactive about shadow IT and not just wait until it causes a security breach or data loss incident. Here are some comprehensive steps you can take to address shadow IT at your company.
Don’t Initially Approach Shadow IT From a Punitive Angle
First, before you get into your action steps, it’s important to approach shadow IT in a way that’s going to be productive and not cause employees to immediately become defensive.
If you approach shadow IT from a punitive angle, employees may not tell you the apps they use because they’re afraid of getting into trouble. This can also lead to you missing out on some potentially helpful apps your team discovered on their own.
You want to approach unauthorized app use from a stance of, “We realize this can get away from us and make everyone’s job harder, so let’s work together to improve our cloud environment and security.”
Survey Users on the Cloud Applications They Use
You’ll need to see what has previously been in the shadows, which is all the applications that may be used by your staff to do their work. Once you have this, you can start to take action to clean up any unnecessary cloud use.
Ask your team to send a list of all the cloud applications they use for their work. Give them time to go through their workflows mentally as some might be used just occasionally and you want to capture them all.
Ask Users to Rate Their Business Apps
You don’t just want to get rid of all shadow IT without taking a deeper look. Why are employees using these apps? Do they do something better than an approved app? Is there a gap in the cloud tools you make available to your team?
Ask your users to rate each of the tools they use, both authorized apps and those they’ve begun using on their own. Encourage them to share the reasons they like or don’t like a certain app.
Optimize & Secure Your Cloud Environment
Using the input from your employees on the applications they use and what they like or don’t like about each work app, optimize your cloud environment.
It’s helpful to have an IT consulting partner like Texas I.T. Pros help you because we can give you tips on streamlining, integrating, and automating processes between your cloud platforms.
Next, you’ll want to secure your cloud environment by exporting data and closing accounts for any cloud applications you choose not to incorporate as an approved app.
Create an App Use Policy
Employees often start using cloud apps without permission because they are just trying to get work done more efficiently. They’re often not aware of the problems that come from shadow IT.
Give current and future employees direction by creating an app use policy that prohibits the use of unauthorized cloud apps for work, and that also gives them a path to suggest potential apps they’d like to use.
Having a way to suggest an application for approval makes it more likely employees will do that rather than just start using the app without permission.
Use Technology to Mitigate Future Uses of Shadow IT
Implement technology that helps you keep an eye on the use of unauthorized apps. This allows you to detect use and address it right away rather than have shadow IT start growing again after you’ve addressed it.
Two technologies that can help you do this are:
- Password Manager: If employees use your business password manager to manage all their cloud passwords, you can detect saved logins for any new cloud tools that you don’t recognize.
- Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB): This is a robust tool for cloud security that is designed to detect the use of unauthorized apps as well as control access to your cloud environment.
Keep Your Cloud Environment Secure & Streamlined
Shadow IT isn’t only a security problem; it can cause your SaaS costs to skyrocket. Texas I.T. Pros can help your Denton or Wise County business root out unauthorized cloud use and put a cost-efficient environment in place.
Contact us today to learn more! Call 940-239-6500 or reach out online.