Combating Shadow IT with Cloud Solutions



When users install applications outside of their IT department’s approval, they create what is known as a “shadow IT.” This can be a headache for an IT department for many reasons, some more obvious than others. IT departments cannot offer support or troubleshooting help for applications used without their knowledge or approval. Shadow I can also lead to workflow inconsistencies if the new tool does not directly match the functionality of the application it is intended to replace.

More serious issues lie on a deeper level. If your organization deals with secure or confidential information, you have no guarantee that unauthorized applications will adhere to any required compliance standards. Sensitive files, for instance, could be transferred through insecure protocols or stored on non-private servers. Staff members using unauthorized software may not be aware of this increased risk of data vulnerability; as far as they know, they are just going about their day-to-day tasks.

Shadow IT programs tend to be popular, consumer-grade applications. Cyber attackers target these sorts of programs because they have such a broad audience; thus, any vulnerabilities that exist within them can quickly become a problem for your organization. In minor cases, these applications may expose your staff to targeted phishing attacks. In a more severe situation, an application’s vulnerability may be exploited to install ransomware in your shared cloud space, locking down your sensitive data through encryption until someone pays off the attacker.

The best way to prevent issues from arising is to avoid the feeling that Shadow IT is needed at all. Shadow IT typically begins when employees feel that setting up approved software is too inconvenient to wait for, which leads them to set up applications on their own. Deploying a good cloud solution can make the setup process much faster and much more painless, which makes employees less likely to grow impatient and install their own software.

One option to consider is using a Desktop-as-a-Service solution (DaaS), such as CloudHelm Stations, which allows you to quickly and easily set up a user’s workstation based on a preconfigured image, removing any excessive wait times. CloudHelm Stations also offers you a strong level of security, knowing that all application processes are taking place in a secure space on the cloud server.

If a DaaS solution is not right for you, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution such as CloudHelm IaaS can still offer you some helpful options to avoid shadow IT issues. You can quickly deploy applications and monitor security settings across the board for your users, helping you avoid any unintended data transfer issues from unauthorized applications. You can also stop outside programs from being installed altogether if that suits your needs best.

Shadow IT often begins with good intentions, but the issues and security risks it causes outweigh the user’s benefits. A cloud-based solution can already save you time in the long run by making application setup faster and easier. Reducing risks that go with Shadow IT is an important upside to consider.