Shadow IT: Dangers and Risks hero

The Dangers of Underestimating Shadow IT Risks

Shadow IT

Written by David Berman

Shadow IT Risks & Dangers Risks from shadow IT present a dark lining around advances in cloud computing.

The cloud era is in full swing, and it’s a boom time for enterprise IT innovation thanks to cloud computing’s democratization of IT infrastructure, platform, and application and service resources. Never before have organizations been able to deploy, add, change, and decommission resources as quickly or as economically, and the rate of evolution in enterprise IT has accelerated as a result. But corporate employees are taking advantage of the cloud’s accessibility and rapid adoption options as well, sometimes with negative ramifications that well-meaning individuals never saw coming. These days shadow IT risks are creating problems for IT and business lines. Let’s take a look at why no organization should underestimate the threat of shadow IT.

  1. Shadow IT’s threat to compliance

Regulatory compliance, as all firms in financial services or the healthcare sector already know, is critical to continued success. Compliance violations are costly and can limit a business’s ability to operate and grow. Shadow IT can lead directly to compliance violations. Without visibility into user activities and data transfers taking place in the shadowy clouds outside of IT’s jurisdiction, and without control over those activities or the data that leaves the corporation, regulated businesses are open to significant vulnerabilities and data loss.

  1. Shadow IT’s threat to data privacy

IT’s lack of visibility into shadow IT clouds also puts the privacy of sensitive consumer and corporate data in jeopardy. Certain types of data demand the highest levels of protection due to their high value to cybercriminals. Shadow IT removes IT’s ability to protect and monitor that data. For example, there are several cases where well meaning employees have used Google Drive or other public file sharing accounts to store sensitive customer data. This can expose protected information and trigger breach notification laws – which can trash a company’s reputation in a hurry.

  1. Shadow IT’s risk to enterprise security

Finally, employee use of shadow IT can create significant security vulnerabilities for the enterprise IT environment. One of the many reasons is because poor password practices are still common. Many people continue to use the same password on multiple sites (including to access corporate resources), or use easily guessed passwords, and/or divulge their passwords to third parties. Social engineering is a critical threat to the enterprise, and once a cybercriminal has stolen or guessed a employee’s password to a unsanctioned cloud, the criminal may only a few hops away from accessing private corporate resources.

Ignoring the Shadow IT problem is risky. But many organizations don’t have a handle on how big a problem this is for their businesses. If you haven’t already started the process of Shadow IT discovery and consolidation to IT sanctioned secure cloud solutions, the scope of the issue may shock you. Learn the latest statistics on shadow IT and cloud adoption in the enterprise by downloading CipherCloud’s “Cloud Adoption and Risk Report: 2014 North American and European Trends” or visit the popular “Shadow IT Management Guide” today.