Shadow IT in the cloud How to close security gaps

The shadow IT phenomenon has existed for decades, but has gained in importance in the age of the cloud. In the past, employees used their own private hardware, laptops, USB sticks and other things for work. Today they simply go online and use cloud services. The problem: The IT department and those responsible in a company do not know anything about it, the security risk increases.

It cannot be denied that many employees work better and more effectively when they can choose the tools they need, tailored to their needs. You can use one program or device better than the other. This also means that they use and know certain solutions privately and therefore like to use them in everyday work instead of familiarizing themselves with unknown solutions. Employee satisfaction increases with shadow IT. This often results in process optimization for the company.

The crux of the matter is that compatibility problems arise when employees or even entire departments use different technologies. Isolated solutions are created and cross-departmental processes cannot be processed jointly and uniformly. In addition, compliance and security requirements are often not met as a result. How do you know whether employees are protecting and encrypting important data, for example? All of this can lead to significant risk for the entire company.

Eliminate risks from the outset

There is no ONE solution for dealing with shadow IT. Every company has to look for an individual path for itself. IT experts see their task in educating companies and employees and making them aware of possible security gaps. In addition, experts advise introducing guidelines for dealing with IT.

Another effective approach is to create transparency and promote dialogue with the individual specialist departments. Letting employees decide which technology or software they can work well with increases efficiency and has the advantage that the IT department can intervene immediately in the event of problems.

Corporate decision-makers also have the option of excluding certain risks from the outset by making specific settings for Internet access. Does every employee really need unrestricted access to the Internet? Here it is possible to set up PC access individually and to block applications such as Facebook or Dropbox. This means that employees cannot even fall into security traps.

Recognize weak points

It is important for companies to have a good overview of the entire IT structure. However, since cloud applications are difficult to capture, the firewall that monitors access to the Internet is a suitable interface for analyzing the company’s online activities. The firewall records in log files how often and when which applications are accessed on the Internet. Many IT service providers use this to create monthly reports for their customers that provide information about the surfing habits of their employees.

For example, the boss receives an overview of the frequency of use of Facebook and Co. Do employees follow the rules and only access them during their break? With the corresponding reporting, you always have an overview of which services are being used and you have control over the programs used. The same applies to mobile devices that are used in the company. Employees should not be allowed to install apps on company devices without authorization. Mobile device management systems regulate the rights of the user and thus protect against security risks.

Use opportunities – keep an eye on risks

Deciding how to deal with shadow IT in the cloud is not an easy one for companies. However, the most important thing is to deal with the situation and get advice from experts if you are not familiar with it. Cloud applications should also not be condemned as bad because they favor shadow IT. Wouldn’t it be better to recognize its potential and to control the work in it sensibly and to make it safer?


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