Shadow IT, or the use of computer systems, software, devices, applications, as well as services without the approval of the IT department, is one of the serious reasons why companies face serious safety hazards.
But before it’s too late, many organizations may not be aware that shadow IT is creating a void in their structure. Security teams now face a dilemma as they may not have the tools to track a shadow IT issue that affects the entire organization. So what exactly are security issues and how can organizations address them?
The evolution of Shadow IT
Although it is obvious that shadow IT is a plague for organizations, it is difficult to identify who is responsible for it. There is no single simple reason why shadow computing exists in enterprises.
One of the main reasons is that new generations have grown up with technology more than previous generations. Thus, the use of unauthorized software and devices by employees is driven by a “convenience” factor. Having the internet, using certain software every day, and a phone that does everything has become a part of modern life. If the new generation approaches a company that has a restricted environment, they feel limited in a corporate network. Therefore, most people feel that they cannot do their job effectively without using untrusted applications, which in turn become a breeding ground for phantom computing.
Another major reason for the rise of shadow IT is the widespread use of outdated software by businesses. Outdated software lacks the upgrades found in modern software, which, in turn, leads to ghost computing. Additionally, the lack of inventory/asset monitoring and management means that security teams are completely unaware of these issues. When these issues go unaddressed by the organization, they can lead to major security threats.
Why does shadow IT expose organizations to cyber threats?
The majority of large organizations are still busy with cloud migration projects and performing other similar tasks. These projects accumulate technical depth, which in turn becomes a foundation for shadow IT.
There are significant vulnerabilities within shadow computing that threat actors can use to deploy cyberattacks. Users are accustomed to using services and applications directly through the cloud. They don’t necessarily think about the risks, but rather about the resources that will help them complete their tasks. The threat surface increases as more and more workers use more and more applications. For example, employees may use applications such as Dropbox or Wetransfer, which may not be approved by IT teams and therefore, if left unmonitored, put the business at risk. Again, this may be due to not having an adequate alternative application.
The recent spread of remote working has seen an explosion in shadow computing, with employees often using unsecured applications from home. Due to these degraded networks, the result is that sensitive company data is at risk, regardless of any security procedures the company might have in place. For example, in July 2022, the UK broadband operator Movable anvil discovered a new exploit, which hijacks end-user routers and then carries out cyberattacks.
Additionally, data stored on a network, such as a home network, that does not meet corporate network standards is vulnerable to hacking. So if you’re working remotely and uploading sensitive data to software that isn’t necessarily secure, you’re putting the whole company at risk. The problem is using installations that are not guaranteed or approved by the company’s IT department. The company could be put in jeopardy because of a single error in judgment.
Why have organizations failed to manage their Shadow IT issues in the past?
When organizations fail to fully understand the risks of shadow IT, security is not a priority. According our report, 61% of companies have not made Shadow IT a priority when securing their networks. As long as employees continue to use unauthorized devices and applications, the shadow computing problem exacerbates and further damages an organization’s security posture.
In addition, users want tools to quickly increase their productivity. Employees easily adopt the cloud application as they have a wide range of free tools. This then leads to the problem of shadow IT.
How can organizations combat the problem of shadow IT?
Organizations can take control of their shadow IT problem with Domain Name System (DNS) security. DNS can track service usage, behavior and provides a source of data to compare. For example, you see dropbox queried multiple times, but it’s not a validated/trusted service.
DNS traffic and network data help companies understand the online behavior of their employees and therefore detect shadow IT issues. Shadow IT can be detected in terms of unmanaged cloud applications as well as applications that are not sanctioned. Additionally, DNS can also identify, report, and track machine-to-machine communications.
When it comes to identifying shadow IT for an enterprise, DNS has quickly become the primary solution. Our research showed that 51% of organizations use DNS as their primary tool for detecting shadow IT. Organizations can take advantage of network data because DNS provides complete visibility into clouds and applications. As a result, this gives security teams more visibility into cloud-based applications, which in turn allows them to recognize and keep tabs on shadow IT.
Once organizations understand the solution they want to implement, it is also important to model the networks before deploying them professionally. Model network automation helps organizations tailor their solutions to meet both their business and security needs.
By understanding the problem of shadow computing within their business and implementing the appropriate policies, organizations can finally combat all hidden security issues and be sure to have complete visibility into all devices and applications. their network.
Chris Buijs is the Chief Evangelist of EfficientIP.