Just Discovering Shadow IT Isn’t Enough to Improve a Company’s Cloud Security Posture

July 25, 2016
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2 min read

Cloud is here to stay. Whether they realize it or not, businesses large and small have adopted cloud applications, and most companies have a growing concern about their cloud security posture.

Shadow IT: A Dark Cloud

Some cloud applications have a very simple enrollment process, which makes it easy for employees to sign up for the service without involving the IT department.

Shadow IT is what occurs when employees adopt cloud applications without approval or involvement from their IT department. It can be difficult to know what cloud applications have risk or threat exposures. If companies don’t provide a way for employees to understand what applications are allowed, shadow IT will continue.

Shadow IT can be discovered by using a cloud access security broker (CASB). CASBs are the future of cloud security. Unfortunately, most companies haven’t made the shift and are using static, outdated data to determine their risk exposure. They aren’t helping to coach employees to use low-risk, sanctioned cloud applications.

Training Goes a Long Way

Most shadow IT happens because employees are trying to do their jobs more efficiently and don’t know the risks of their actions. Coaching and training employees on the risks and pointing them to approved cloud applications will go a long way toward reducing risk and controlling shadow IT.

It is risky for companies to use outdated static data to determine the current or potential exposure for employees’ usage of unsanctioned or even sanctioned cloud applications. When enterprises hand over their corporate data to third parties, they should be sure that the cloud application provider is contractually obligated, prepared and equipped to handle that information.

Cloud Security Measures

To adopt cloud applications safely and prevent shadow IT, companies need to look for a CASB that not only discovers cloud applications, but also makes it easy for companies to connect with and teach employees about what is already approved. Additionally, the CASB should provide dynamic threat and risk data about the cloud applications being used.

Patrick Wardrop
Chief Product Architect Cloud Security Enforcer, IBM

Patrick Wardrop is a senior technical staff member in the IBM Security Systems division. He is the chief architect for the IBM Cloud Security Enforcer produc...
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