Is Your Organization Facing Shadowy IT Territory?

Until only recently, innovation in the IT department was initiated, developed, and executed within its own walls. While business leaders and other employees could influence the general direction of the tech teams' progress, complexities of this domain limited anyone beyond the department in terms of actually making a direct impact on the advancements of IT strategy. Now, procuring enterprise-grade tech resources is so easy that almost anyone can do it, and a shadow IT revolution is taking place behind the backs of tech administrators everywhere. 

The Shadow IT Dilemma  

While this may be good news for employees eager for greater IT autonomy, the shadow movement is accompanied by a range of significant risk factors that add to the enterprise struggle for tech authority—namely in the cybersecurity arena. Information Age recently pointed to Cloud Cipher research encapsulating this tension, noting that while data protection is a top priority for 62 percent of business leaders, more than four-fifths (80 percent) of employees are using unauthorized applications on a daily basis. 

This leaves IT decision-makers faced with a dilemma, as they recognize the creative potential of shadow IT but still strive to uphold risk-averse standards across the infrastructure. It is difficult to rationalize looking the other way when tech administrators are fully aware of the dangers facing their infrastructure and increasingly popular shadow tools continue to flood their networks.

Here are a few of the biggest concerns that these secretive developments raise:

  • Protecting shadow environments inevitably leads to  "disproportionate security controls," according to CIO UK
  • Existing security measures fall quickly out of date as new tools are introduced—Cipher Cloud noted that the typical infrastructure now contains over 50 disparate shadow apps
  • Data moving across shadow IT may be protected at either end of the transition, but can rarely be considered a true secure file transfer without end-to-end encryption

A Chance for Change

With such diverse security risks raising red flags in the shadow IT environment, not to mention auditing and performance issues that also tend to result from unauthorized app usage, companies must make adjustments with these grassroots tech movements to avert a potential crisis. A recent press release from BT Global Services stated, however, that forward-thinking leaders will take a different approach, illuminating the shadows to see what innovations can guide their organizations toward more efficient processes. CIOs who can adopt a creative, imaginative, and visionary mind-set, and look more to their IT partners for innovation and fresh thinking will thrive.

With 76 percent of CIOs grappling with shadow IT, a collaborative, constructive solution is more critical than ever. This, of course, begs the question of how decision-makers should go about turning shadow IT momentum from a burden to an asset. Aside from embracing a flexible, feedback-oriented mindset, tech leaders need the technological support to ensure that all applications and processes remain visible and aligned with proper security measures. By leveraging a tool such as Enterprise File Transfer by Globalscape, businesses can lock down their networks without diminishing the end-user experience with tedious protocols. Such a solution protects data in transition while offering total transparency of traffic flow across the enterprise and beyond.