The Biggest Shadow IT Risks

Brought on by Digital Asset Diversity

The Biggest Shadow IT Risks Brought on By Digital Asset Diversity

As organizations continue to deploy solutions, devices, and other digital tools in order to remain competitive, digital diversity management has become a necessity. Digital diversity management involves taking control of the vast number of digital assets, technologies, and more that have been deployed throughout your network and across lines of business. Managing this rather sudden influx of assets within your environment is a must for staying secure and compliant. 

Yes, this concept may seem broad, but it is only because digital diversity management is a sprawling issue. Digital asset management means establishing visibility and control over everything from software as a service (SaaS) to multi-cloud. One of the biggest challenges of digital asset diversity, however, is Shadow IT. Shadow IT refers to all of the IT applications and infrastructure that were purchased by lines of business rather than official procurement channels. These tools are therefore managed and utilized without the knowledge of the organization’s IT department.

When it comes to digital asset diversity, there are a lot of Shadow IT related risks that could emerge. Let’s take a look at all of the potential issues to be aware of and how you can begin to avoid them.

The Shadow IT Risks that Come into Play

According to Gartner, the next five years will be crucial to understanding digital diversity management. Your organization will have to stay on top of this trend in order to stay secure and compliant. Unfortunately, Shadow IT has a way of presenting itself in ways many organizations may have yet to anticipate, so it is important that you begin to learn how to identify these weak spots. One example of this would be self-developed apps. If someone creates an application and then goes on to leave the company, it can be very difficult to manage that app as no one truly knows how to use or secure it other than the author.

It has been estimated that 33 percent of successful cyber-attacks will be achieved through Shadow IT applications, which means your organization’s approach to visibility and security may require reevaluation. All other Shadow IT issues and risks will stem from the security of your enterprise in some way, so you must be able to find the gaps.

A common way Shadow IT manifests is through SaaS applications. First of all, it is dangerous to not know where all SaaS applications are being utilized. If you can’t recall where they are used, by who, and what data is stored within them, your IT department will not be able to fully protect the organization. Remember: if it’s not seen, it’s not protected. Second, stay aware of software that has reached end-of-support. Running outdated software could seriously compromise your organization, as it is simply no longer running at maximum efficiency.

There are, of course, other Shadow IT risk factors brought on by digital asset diversity, with non-compliance being one of them. Take the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example. Staying in compliance with GDPR requires extra manpower and attention to detail, which lends itself to a slip-up every now and again. Also, stay aware of free for non-commercial use software. Any types of software that are marketed as free often come with their own set of agreements and requirements. Ensure that no one in your organization is installing this type of software without carefully understanding the End User License Agreement (EULA).

What Your Organization Needs to Consider

There are ways to combat the Shadow IT risks within your organization, and they all start with being proactive. It is extremely beneficial to understand where all of your SaaS applications are running, so look for a solution that will help you put together an overview of what you own. A risk analysis will help you understand the usage and risks associated with each app.

Other factors include the type of environment you’re operating in. In the case of on-premise environments, it’s important to make sure you’re working to uncover and remove any “free for non-commercial use" software, as well as any software that’s operating past end of service. In terms of the cloud, organizations must consider using a centralized tool in order to keep track of and monitor assets in real-time.

Of course, it is impossible to gain control over every mobile device that enters your environment, so don’t bank on trying to achieve full mobile device management. You may, however, be able to block or allow specific actions on mobile devices when necessary.

How to Avoid These Issues

Now that you have a good base knowledge of Shadow IT risks and how to stay aware of them, let’s talk about how your organization can mitigate the effects. In order to tackle Shadow IT, consider using a Software Lifecycle Management (SLM) solution to take inventory of the software assets that you own. After all, you cannot begin to understand the enormity of Shadow IT without taking and maintaining an accurate inventory.

After that, assess your organization’s risks. We can help you identify and qualify the risks at hand through a risk assessment by our managed security services. Your assessment lays the groundwork, and then it will be up to you to a) build out a plan and b) assign tasks within each department involved. Leveraging a synergy of both our SLM and managed security services will help you build a plan of action that lasts.

Looking Ahead

Ultimately, the best way to continue to avoid the risks Shadow IT poses is to create a strategy that is able to evolve with you. Digital diversity management will always be necessary, as there will always be new assets coming into play. Ensure that your plan of action is easy to monitor and maintain so that your organization will not fall out of compliance or become vulnerable.

Take Control of Your Digital Asset Diversity

While it may seem overwhelming, designing your digital diversity management strategy doesn’t have to be. Begin your journey to overcoming Shadow IT risks with our Software Lifecycle Management (SLM) solution.

Get Started Now

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Author

Bala Sathunathan

Bala Sethunathan

Director, Security Practice & CISO

Software Portfolio Management

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