Shadow IT is very much the boogeyman of enterprise IT. It’s right up there with digital espionage, DDoS attacks, and ransomware. The good news is that unlike a hostile nation-state or a colossal botnet, it’s actually quite easy to deal with.
See, Shadow IT is almost always a symptom of something not working as intended. Your users don’t like something you’ve deployed – they feel it interferes with their workflows. As a result, they seek a workaround, and that workaround often puts sensitive data at risk.
Learning to recognize that this is happening is the first step.
Your Helpdesk Isn’t Working As Intended
Take a look at your helpdesk. Ideally, you should be receiving only a few requests – a user having a minor technical issue here, a password reset there. If the volume and frequency of requests skews too far in either direction, there’s a problem.
Too many requests mean that one of the tools you’ve deployed is so arcane (or useless) your staff cannot make use of it. Eventually, frustrated employees will turn to a workaround, if they haven’t already. And if your helpdesk is a ghost town, that probably means the systems you’ve deployed aren’t being used.
Additionally, if you receive a helpdesk request for software you’ve never heard of, you should immediately be wary.
You’re Being Flooded With Unusual Security Alerts
Are you seeing an upturn in virus and malware alerts? Unusual access requests? Abnormal network traffic?
While there’s a good chance you might be the target of criminal activity, it’s equally possible that someone within your organization is unsecured, unapproved software or tools. Investigate as soon as possible, and prepare for the worst. In this case, it’s probably better to hope those alerts are the result of Shadow IT.
Your Process For System Management Leans More Towards Mismanagement
Do you have multiple applications and systems designed to handle the same task? Is your organization running a haphazard combination of modern and outdated technology? Are your employees still being saddled with applications developed nearly a decade ago, or workstations that still run a version of Windows that was old in the 90s?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you’ve got more problems than just Shadow IT. If your users are turning to unapproved workarounds, it’s a symptom of infrastructure that’s in desperate need of updates and consolidation. Correct that, and work with your users to equip them with systems they can actually use.
Banishing The Shadows
At the end of the day, the best way to deal with Shadow IT is to simply communicate with your users. Talk to them about their needs, and determine whether or not those needs are being met. Show them that you’re interested in equipping them with the tools they require to get their jobs done, and that you’re capable of doing so without putting corporate data at risk.
That’s really all there is to it.