Shadow IT Explained: Is your new favourite app putting your business at risk?

Shadow IT Explained: Is your new favourite app putting your business at risk?

Shadow IT is essentially any tech (hardware or software) used in a company/organisation that hasn’t been approved by your IT department/support team. This could be anything from an application or software to a device or system. 

Employees using Shadow IT is quite common in the workplace; especially since working from home, and from a range of different devices has become the new normal. 

While flexibility in how we work has become crucial, keeping track of Shadow IT is essential because it can lead to some risks within your business.

The Dangers and Risks of Shadow IT.

A loss of control.

Transferring data over to Shadow IT means that you have lost control of your data and the ability to track where the information has gone and who has access to it. This increases security risks, including the chances of data leaks; which with a lack of control means it can be almost impossible to find where the leak is coming from and prevent it further. A lack of control means an unknown expansion of attack surfaces that can make your company more vulnerable to organisational attacks. 

Lost data.

As well as a loss of control, you may lose the data altogether. You may be fully relying on important and critical information, data or documents for your client.

Are you positive that the data is secure or that it’s been fully backed up? Have you considered a recovery strategy just in case data is lost? 

Or alternatively, if an employee leaves the company, is there a chance that you may be unable to get the data back from their personal files? Losing data like this can cause major issues for your company and could lead to you losing clients. 

Also being unable to track all of your data can also cause system inefficiencies. If your company isn’t fully aware of your data flows, you may not be able to plan and prepare properly for performance, capacity, system architecture etc. 


Using Shadow IT systems can cause compliance issues especially if your company is dealing with more sensitive/personal details from your customers. 

Shadow IT can create additional audit points, meaning proof of compliance must expand. It can increase the chances of exposing information and could also lead to your company being sued or fined for non-compliance, which could also have a negative impact on your company’s brand and reputation. 

Examples of Shadow IT.

Shadow IT isn’t bad or negative tech, it’s simply anything that hasn’t been approved by your company. That’s why it’s important to make your employees aware of it, otherwise, they may not think that they are doing anything wrong. 

Shadow IT can be: 

  • Employees sharing data between themselves, customers or suppliers. Usually through cloud storage such as Google Drive or DropBox instead of the company-approved OneDrive.  
  • Employees using personal accounts, for example contacting customers through a personal Skype account. 
  • Employees using a different tool/software than the one you provide for them.

It’s important to keep track and take control to prevent your employees from using Shadow IT. Although it can seem like a small issue, it’s clear how easy it can become much bigger and out of your control, especially now a lot of teams are working remotely. 

Want some advice on how to manage your shadow IT? Get in touch with one of our experts today

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