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Mitigating Shadow IT Risks by Robust Data Protection Process

By CIOReview | Monday, September 12, 2016

Most of the CIOs are aware that data is a valuable asset of an organization, which can easily be misused or squandered to create a difference in the competitive business world, and give way to new revenue streams. With the intention of being productive, IT executives tend to use the SaaS application under the nose of IT administrator and end up posing trouble to organizations leading to Shadow IT. Nearly 80 percent of the IT executives agreed to be using unauthorized SaaS application at work, as per the survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan and Intel Security. Another startling survey conducted by Intel security this year represented about 23 percent of the IT officials stated that their team handles security issues without the help of IT.

Shadow IT becomes a hindrance to data storage protection process, offering flexibility to IT employees to create the data, alter and exchange data without making any communication with the file server under the protection of IT administration. For instance, there are employees who leverage online storage account to host sensitive information into a cloud provider without considering whether it is unknown provider or offers no guarantees over security. This not only leads to security breach but also break into regulatory and data sovereignty rules.

This article elucidates the best practices to fill the gap in the data protection process and reduce the shadow IT risks.

Accessibility to the tools     

One of the most used cloud services, File Synch, and Share (FSS) enables IT executives to gather and store the data in FSS, and also allow them to share the data seamlessly anywhere to anyone. Apart from sharing data, FSS also allows access to backup data from a smartphone for evaluating and editing.

Other tools like cloud-to-data center back up interact directly with vendor backup information from these cloud service to in-house storage. This piece of information must be protected and to secure the contents IT admins must make sure they provide employee access to the services they want.

Hybrid IT model

In order to protect the data from computer worms, SQL injection and other IT threats, enterprise need to spot the illicit cloud application being used in the premises. Hybrid IT model enables organization to recognize the latest services preferred by the executives and incorporate that service in the agreed service menu of the model. It is the responsibility of CIOs to see to it that all the necessary cloud services and applications are made available to the IT executives. Although, complete eradication of shadow IT may not be possible but CIO’s can alleviate the risk associated with shadow IT.


Keeping the track of activities is essential, because of those people who do not follow the rules.  Each department should monitor for unauthorized applications being accessed. For instance, secure gateway is used for malware prevention, which can also be used for mitigating shadow IT risk. Gateways assist in blocking unwanted and prohibited websites, which in turn assist in restricting unauthorized cloud services. By doing this IT admins can protect data loss and reduce the shadow IT risks.  

Mirroring and Replication

Mirroring and Replication are some of the reliable and efficient methods to protect data that includes ‘always on’ failover-based recovery strategies that is likely be the most expensive approach to revival. Tape backup is another traditional approach, which takes time for restoration of data, instead of referring to an application and substantially it is less expensive.

Insight of data defense

Best method for an enterprise to eradicate shadow IT risks is by offering self service and cloud computing benefits. Once the IT executives recognize the possible threats, enterprise will implement some fundamental protection. It is wise to block unauthorized access and concentrate on controls like authentication and some basic functions through centralized billing. This assists IT in tracking down the unauthorized application used by employees.


Blending all these technologies and practices, removes the risks associated to shadow IT. The ideal option for organization would be to choose the security controls that help in warding their valuable data. Business executives will offer better performance and yield better productivity, if they are given options to choose on their own. By setting up an environment that transforms the IT sector into service systems, enterprises can alleviate the peril related to shadow IT, protects business from unauthorized cloud services.