With the rapid adoption of BYOD and cloud-based services, the use of applications and services that are outside the purview and control of the corporate IT department has spiralled. Employee engagement in technology or systems for business use without the knowledge or approval of the company’s IT department is known as Shadow IT.
So, let’s understand why employees use shadow IT and why is it so dangerous
An organization invests a lot of resources to procure and maintain IT solutions for their employees. As technology evolves some solutions may not serve present business needs well enough.
Employees turn to shadow IT for several reasons:
- New technology or solutions may help them to be more efficient and productive.
- They are more comfortable using services or products that they know how to operate.
- Approved software is more complicated or uncomfortable or seemingly less effective as compared to employee’s preferred software.
- Approved software is incompatible with employee device.
- Employees don’t understand or are unaware of security risks associated with shadow IT.
What security risks does shadow IT pose?
- Increased risk of illegitimate access to corporate data or applications because of the lack of control of a company’s IT team.
- Confidentiality of enterprise data or intellectual property being compromised because of being uploaded on unsecured portals or unauthorized apps access.
- Unapproved software may not have security controls or may have a stealth application.
- Since the IT department cannot track such devices or applications, it is difficult to detect the security breach.
How to tackle shadow IT risks?
Though there are numerous ways to mitigate shadow IT risks but implementing a mobile device management system is a powerful and organized mechanism to tackle shadow IT.
Let’s see how.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture has enabled the employees to be more productive and efficient. Though employees’ personal devices are a major source of shadow IT, completely controlling the software or employee devices may curtail their freedom and flexibility.
Mobile device management (MDM) solution helps secure, monitor, and manage the use of mobile devices in an enterprise environment while offering a flexible and mobile work environment. Since most shadow IT applications and software can be traced back to employee-owned mobile devices, using MDM to manage such devices can turn out to be a strategic decision to mitigate shadow IT risks at the very beginning.
MDM advantages to address shadow IT?
MDM solutions have the capability to automatically register devices that connect to the corporate network. These devices once registered can be deployed with security solutions, enterprise policies, and settings that can help align these devices with the company security regulations.
Device Administration from a Single Console
For larger organizations, it is tough to ensure that every device completely aligns with your security policy. MDM solutions provide a unified console to administer platform and operating system agnostic devices. Security is handled at both the application and the mobile OS layer which includes:
- Automatic registration of employees and their personal devices.
- Automatic allocation of BYOD specific guidelines.
- Dynamic administration of mobile apps – installation and uninstall.
- User profiles and email configuration and administration
- Data encryption
- Identity and authorization features
- Access permissions for data and apps
- Collaboration and communication
- Single and multiple geofencing
- Administration of mobile devices with different OS (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.) from a single platform
- Device locking and dynamic activation of work profiles.
MDM software can specify different access levels for different users. For instance, there can be a superior level of access for the organization CIO. Company-owned devices or registered devices may have access to corporate data while an unregistered device may be blocked.
Within the same device, different applications may have access control to corporate resources while user-apps may be restricted.
Many employees resort to shadow IT as they are more comfortable using their favourite tools. And a modern-day employee demands more flexibility and freedom. It is thus important to respect employee’s need for privacy and freedom while maintaining the security of corporate assets.
Mobile device management can help containerize user personal data and apps from business data and apps. Containerization allows full control over corporate resources on a mobile device which includes installations, deletion, modification, monitoring, deploying or updating security updates, restrict unsafe apps, and remote wipe in case of device loss. On the other hand, employees’ personal apps and data may remain untouched.
MDM empowers the company IT admins to continuously monitor device network usage, how restricted data is accessed, what kind of applications are installed on the system, device health, and usage pattern and scrutinize the access to content and apps in real-time from a remote console. In case of any attempt to breach the security policy, IT admins using MDM solution can either block the device access, wipe data or report an issue to help minimize possible consequences.
Shadow IT is a risk that will continue to lurk in the corporate environment because employees hardly miss chances to try out new or existing technologies that can help them complete their works as easily as possible. Effective mobile device management ensures that IT admins will no longer have to worry about illegitimate IT usage, and at the same time, employees can enjoy the flexibility and readiness of accessing the right content, apps, and features at the right time to complete a given task. Companies investing in a robust and scalable MDM solution like Scalefusion go a long way in eliminating shadow IT for good.