Get Rid of Shadow IT Blind Spots to Gain Full Visibility and Control of Your Data

shadow it

Vehicles have blind spots. Over time, those blind spots have caused many accidents and fatalities, so automobile manufacturers have created blind spot detection systems to alert the driver to the presence of another car or pedestrian. The basic idea behind the blind spot warning system is to decrease accidents by improving the driver’s visibility around their entire vehicle.

Enterprises have a significant blind spot that makes it impossible for the IT department to gain visibility around their entire infrastructure – shadow IT.

Some executives are unfamiliar with the term, but shadow IT refers to software, applications, or systems that employees use regularly without the knowledge or approval of the IT department or the executive team.

The problem is that IT departments can’t see, let alone monitor or protect, the shadow IT that’s being “snuck into” their network. Due to the pandemic and the uptick of remote work, the use of unauthorized applications surged by 65% in 2020.

A Security Accident Waiting to Happen

The cloud has made applications more available and affordable. According to Microsoft, on average, enterprises are using over 1,100 cloud apps, yet 61% go undetected by IT. We’ve witnessed organizations putting more than 50% of their IT budget toward applications the IT team have no visibility into.

Gone are the days of having to drive to a store to buy a box with disks inside. You can purchase and download an app from anywhere, at any time. This great democratization of applications, if left un-managed inside an enterprise network, is a cyber accident waiting to happen.

While easier access to applications can help increase productivity, unsanctioned shadow IT apps have varying degrees of protection, representing a substantial security risk.

“Many IT decisions are now distributed throughout the organization at the line-of-business level. From a security point of view, it’s a nightmare scenario,” says Larry Ponemon, founder of Ponemon Institute. “People at the business level may not have any knowledge at all about security, and they may be using these tools in ways that put the organization at great risk.”

And it isn’t the app itself that is the primary concern, it’s the information being shared and who can access it. You give up control when you introduce enterprise data into these sharing apps.

More Apps Mean More Gaps

A common scenario we come across are clients who have invested in Microsoft 365 (M365), yet still have a great deal of shadow IT being used throughout their organization, especially for file sharing. Some popular examples of apps used to share files are FTP, Citrix, Box, and Dropbox. The administrators often have little to no visibility into what is being shared through the various solutions.

If you haven’t yet conducted a cloud application discovery or audit to reveal shadow IT, we strongly recommend it. It’s critical to assess whether your company has control and visibility of sensitive data used and distributed by SaaS applications.

Cloud-based file-sharing apps can lead to the distribution of company data across several services that may not have contractual relationships with the company or acceptable privacy and security policies.

In many cases, the reason the shadow IT exists is because it’s easy to use and easy to obtain. Employees already familiar with using these technologies personally will often introduce them to their workspace. All it takes is a credit card and, in no time, users can share documents both internally and externally.

Microsoft 365 Helps

Investing in M365 is a step in the right direction. Its extensive capabilities increase user productivity across devices, simplify workflow and enable teamwork. M365 supplies multiple options for how to organize, complete and share work.

There are many ways to collaborate on and share documents in using M365:

  • Email attachments (not recommended as it leads to multiple versions in circulation and is not secure)
  • Sharing links through Teams and SharePoint
  • Co-authoring on Office documents
  • Portals for large sets of external users or specific business processes

But Microsoft’s out-of-the-box (OOTB) sharing capabilities don’t work in every situation.

For example, you may have an existing project that you want to migrate to M365 - How do you execute that easily and securely without disrupting employee productivity? Or perhaps you want to move individual users over to be entirely based on M365/OneDrive instead of being reliant on shadow IT.

It’s more important than ever for organizations to identify the right solution to extend M365 that best protects them from security threats, allows them visibility and control across their organization, and makes internal and external sharing easy and safe, all without disturbing user productivity.

Whatever solution you select, you need to make it easy for the end users. Otherwise, you’ll face resistance as people fear they are going to lose the ease of usability.

Get Full Visibility and Control with M365 and Extranet User Manager

Extranet User Manager (EUM) combined with M365’s OOTB capabilities gives you a cohesive approach to external sharing, with better structure and ease of use than shadow IT solutions.

Together they provide the control that IT requires and the simplicity of sharing that users like.

This means you can decommission those other external file sharing services and just use cloud sharing: saving money, simplifying management and security, and ridding your company of IT blind spots.

The team at Extranet User Manager, can help you get full visibility and control over your entire environment, so you only share what you want with who you want.


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