Love it or hate it, shadow IT is something we have to deal with. Employees love the fact they can quickly and easily get new technology that allows them to be more productive. IT managers hate the fact that they have lost control over what software applications are in their infrastructure. A recent survey uncovered that 83% of companies have some sort of unauthorized cloud services in their corporate environment.
Shadow IT refers to hardware, software, and applications present in a company’s IT infrastructure that are not authorized, procured, or managed by the IT department. Much like the growth and adoption of remote endpoints, the technology that has created shadow IT has outstripped security capabilities to keep it patched and compliant.
The growth of shadow IT can primarily be linked to SaaS applications and cloud services. First there is the proliferation of these applications for any manner of business productivity need, from HR to Sales to Marketing. Second is the low cost of the applications which don’t require higher level sign offs before purchasing. Third is the ease of access and application use without any need for technology understanding or implementation.
BYOD policies many companies have put in place, empower employees who can make their own choices about the hardware and software they use when accessing the network. Without realizing it, employees have made shadow IT the preferred way of doing business. From Salesforce to Dropbox and Google Drive to Skype, these applications are critical to productivity and innovation.
The other aspect that created shadow IT hits a little closer to home. The pace at which technology evolves is simply too fast for IT departments to keep up with. Gartner states that shadow IT practices or decentralizing IT by allowing employees to procure their own resources, can reduce time to market by 2 years.
It may not be fair, but the perception that going through the proper IT channels takes too long, requires too many criteria to be met, and approvals get hung up in bureaucratic red tape has been more true than not. You want to help everyone be more productive but you also want to manage the environment. Unfortunately you’re losing on both right now.
The average business now uses more 1,200 cloud based applications, far more than the 30 – 40 applications CIO’s assume their company is using. The same study found that 20% of all files are shared “broadly” in cloud applications. That is a lot of data put at risk through potentially unsecured apps.
The best approach to manage endpoint security in the world of shadow IT is to adopt cloud based solutions of your own. Through automation you can get a handle on what hardware, operating systems, and software applications are present in your network. And you can start to manage them with a minimal level of disruption to employees.
Solutions like Automox, which use a lightweight agent deployed to each endpoint, provide you with full infrastructure visibility, including hardware and software on each endpoint. You’ll also see the current patch status of each device, so you know which ones are at risk. You can apply patches automatically on a set schedule so you’re always current and in compliance.
You’ll also be notified of patch failures so you can investigate further. Automox natively patches Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X as well as a growing list of important 3rd party software applications from a single dashboard.
And with custom policies, you can script whatever you need to do to maintain endpoint security. You can deploy software, blacklist software, set password requirements, lock down USB ports, and more. And because Automox is self healing, policies are enforced every time they run. For example, if someone downloads blacklisted software, it will be removed during the next update.