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Shadow IT exposes corporate info

By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's portals editor.
Johannesburg, 8 Oct 2014

If organisations do not put comprehensive mobile strategies in place, "shadow IT" will increase within enterprises.

Shadow IT is a term used to describe IT systems and IT solutions built and used inside organisations without explicit organisational approval.

"Shadow IT happens when a small group of individuals within an organisation decide to take it upon themselves to find a service and use it among themselves to share corporate information," said Henein.

"For example, a group in the marketing department can decide to share files using Box or Dropbox in order to boost their productivity," he added.

Nader Henein
Nader Henein
Regional director: product security, BlackBerry

However, Henein pointed out, some of these applications end up exposing corporate information as they are not fit for the purpose for which they are being used. This also impacts severely on the level of control an enterprise has on its information, as the information will be sitting on third-party servers, he added. Eventually, this leads to data leakages or loss for the organisation, Henein warned.

He said consumer applications are now finding their way into the enterprise; and although these cannot be classified as malware or viruses, they share information with third-party cloud applications.

"For example, most people have WhatsApp. The way it functions is by taking all your contacts and exporting them to the WhatsApp server. But you wouldn't want critical corporate information ending up in the hands of third parties."

Organisations should, therefore, understand the needs of their users, he explained, adding that businesses should also be able to manage the delivery of the applications their employees need.

"You have to set high standards with the security of your information. I have seen a lot of organisations set their security standards so low that it's a concern. Set a high bar and get to understand when and where you can make exceptions."

In terms of an organisation's mobile strategy, Henein said enterprises must aim to develop and redevelop a mobile strategy from time to time. "You can do this after every six months so you always stay ahead of the game."

He also urged organisations to ensure compliance of their mobile strategies. However, compliance should not be done only because one is afraid of getting penalised, he urged.

"Compliance for compliance's sake is not the right thing to do. Compliance ensures that you get the trust from your customers because they know that they will be safe. Your customers are happier if you put in place better solutions for them; when you give them what they are supposed to get without exposing them to any risk," Henein concluded.

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