A recent study revealed that security professionals face a new kind of shadow IT due to the widespread migration of custom apps to the cloud.

In December 2016 and January 2017, the Cloud Security Alliance and Skyhigh Networks polled 314 qualified IT personnel for the new report, “Custom Applications and IaaS Trends 2017.” The results suggested that infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) initiatives may be the driving force behind shadow IT.

Researchers also made the bold prediction that 2017 will be a tipping point, with less than half of the enterprise workload located in a data center by the end of the year. Cloud migration is inevitable.

Clouded Judgment

This transition introduces a new kind of shadow IT, the report noted. Traditionally, the shadow IT problem arises when employees use apps without the IT department’s approval.

But a new flavor involves employees — even IT staffers — moving custom apps to the cloud without informing the security team. When this happens, security teams have an incomplete view of the data they must protect since they don’t even know what’s in the cloud.

According to the report, the average enterprise deploys 464 custom applications, and security professionals are aware of just 38.4 percent of them. That’s a huge number of apps or use cases that security stakeholders don’t know about.

“Rather than security being a barrier to development, it appears development is occurring without involvement from security,” the researchers wrote of the current cloud migration process.

Shedding Light on Shadow IT

An enterprise’s apps need to be protected in a public cloud. SecurityWeek noted that the need is acute, since almost 73 percent of study respondents reported having at least one business-critical application. Furthermore, 46 percent of these business-critical applications are either completely deployed in the public cloud or in a hybrid cloud.

The report revealed that IT security professionals are hobbled with severely limited visibility as to the deployment and operations of these cloud apps. Additionally, 66.5 percent of respondents ranked the potential of an unprotected cloud app to exfiltrate data as a top concern.

So far, cloud security has required a collaborative effort between enterprises and vendors. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future. If all parties are not involved in developmental projects, security will be an elusive goal no matter where data is stored.

More from

$10.3 Billion in Cyber Crime Losses Shatters Previous Totals

4 min read - The introduction of the most recent FBI Internet Crime Report says, “At the FBI, we know ‘cyber risk is business risk’ and ‘cybersecurity is national security.’” And the numbers in the report back up this statement. The FBI report details more than 800,000 cyber crime-related complaints filed in 2022. Meanwhile, total losses were over $10 billion, shattering 2021's total of $6.9 billion, according to the bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).  Top Five Cyber Crime TypesIn the past five years, the…

4 min read

How to Boost Cybersecurity Through Better Communication

4 min read - Security would be easy without users. That statement is as absurd as it is true. It’s also true that business wouldn’t be possible without users. It’s time to look at the big picture when it comes to cybersecurity. In addition to dealing with every new risk, vulnerability and attack vector that comes along, cybersecurity pros need to understand their own fellow employees - how they think, how they learn and what they really want. The human element — the individual and social factors that…

4 min read

Detecting Insider Threats: Leverage User Behavior Analytics

3 min read - Employees often play an unwitting role in many security incidents, from accidental data breaches to intentional malicious attacks. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have the right protocols and processes to identify potential risks posed by their workforce. Based on a survey conducted by SANS Institute, 35% of respondents said they lack visibility into insider threats, while 30% said the inability to audit user access is a security blind spot in their organizations. In addition, the 2023 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index reported that…

3 min read

Poor Communication During a Data Breach Can Cost You — Here’s How to Avoid It

5 min read - No one needs to tell you that data breaches are costly. That data has been quantified and the numbers are staggering. In fact, the IBM Security Cost of a Data Breach estimates that the average cost of a data breach in 2022 was $4.35 million, with 83% of organizations experiencing one or more security incidents. But what’s talked about less often (and we think should be talked about more) is how communication — both good and bad — factors into…

5 min read