How Shadow IT Threatens Your Secure File Sharing

by Andrew Mullen on June 6, 2016

File sharing apps are the second worst offenders in the world of Shadow IT. Yet CIOs are woefully in the dark, believing that it's a problem but failing to see the seriousness of the situation. In reality, there are 15-22 times more apps and services running on any given enterprise network than IT has approved. How does Shadow IT become such a problem, and what can IT do to get back control?

Users Sometimes Think They Know Better Than IT

Why are all these users lurking in the shadows with their unsafe apps and insecure services? Part of it is that they think they know better than IT. The other part is that IT hasn't met their needs by approving safe apps and services.

Part of the problem is that the average user has just enough knowledge to be dangerous. They believe that they know as much as -- or more than -- IT, when in reality they only know a lot about their own mobile devices, and little to nothing about business networks, secure file sharing, compliance, and the current status of enterprise data security.

The other part of the problem is that IT has often been guilty of making it harder for users to do their jobs. Slow review processes for new applications, even slower implementation of approved software, resisting the adoption of new technologies -- all of these things have driven users toward finding their own solutions. It's time for IT to prove their value and begin empowering users instead of hamstringing them.

Offer a Grace Period for Users to 'Fess Up' to Their Shadow IT Ways

In order to regain control of secure file sharing, you need to give users an easy out. Offer a limited time of grace wherein they can admit where and how they've been sharing files outside the IT-approved channels and face no repercussions. This is the best way to get control of your data back without having to get nasty about it.

When new Shadow IT apps or services are discovered, take a 'watch and wait' approach. Take time to evaluate whether it's safe or not, and kill only the apps that aren't a secure option for your business and its data. This way, users won't view IT as the bad guys, come to take all the good away. They will view IT as a knowledgeable, experienced partner able and willing to guide the company and its users into the next era of technology.

Provide Better Solutions Than Their Shadow IT Options

IT needs to be faster to embrace new technologies (like cloud and mobile) when they come along, so that users won't be sneaking around behind their backs to get the latest and greatest.

If you want to get control of your file sharing and other activities out of Shadow IT options, IT has to approve or provide as good as, if not better than, solutions. Things like single sign-in for all applications and cloud-based options that are easy and readily accessible are a must for trumping the unsafe options.

Finally, leave some room in the budget each year so that you'll have the flexibility to provide options as business needs present themselves. If you can pony up a safe alternative, users will be less likely to resort to unsafe Shadow IT apps and services.

When it comes to secure file sharing, you can provide your users with an easy, powerful, affordable alternative. Learn more now when you download the Talon FAST data sheet.

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