The increasing shift to remote work and the proliferation of easily accessible applications and devices that employees find convenient to use has meant that shadow IT is here to stay.
But the challenges must be tackled head on. Tools that combat shadow IT come in handy here and we would like to take you through a couple of these tools that have impressed us.
Definition of shadow IT tools
Shadow IT tools are software or solutions designed to detect and prevent or control the use of unauthorized software, applications, or devices within an organization. These tools help organizations to identify Shadow IT usage and enforce security policies to prevent risks that can come from continued and unmonitored use.
Shadow IT solutions typically use a combination of approaches such as monitoring, analysis, and enforcement. Here is a general overview of how a shadow IT prevention tool typically works:
- Shadow IT Discovery: The tool first scans the organization's IT environment to identify all the devices, applications, and software being used.
- Shadow IT Risk Assessment: The tool then assesses the risk associated with each device, application, or software based on predefined policies and rules. This can include assessing the security posture, compliance status, and other risk factors associated with the use of the device or application.
- Analysis: The tool analyzes the data collected from the environment to detect any unauthorized software or applications in use. This can include identifying new or unknown software and applications, or flagging devices or users that are not authorized to access specific applications or services in the network.
- Enforcement: The tool enforces security policies and rules to prevent unauthorized software or applications from being used within the organization. This can include blocking access to unauthorized applications, alerting administrators to potential risks, or quarantining devices that pose a threat.
Also Read: Types of IT Services for Enterprises
Shadow IT tools
The tools featured here are aimed at monitoring the network for the presence of any shadow IT applications, software or applications, then taking appropriate action as per the capabilities of each tool.
Important to note that different tools are designed to accomplish different goals. So it’s important to carefully consider what is most critical for you even as you consider the potential tools to combat shadow IT in your organization. Sometimes you may need to actually combine a couple of tools in order to have a comprehensive solution.
Here are the tools you can consider to take care of shadow IT:
The DISCOVER shadow IT tool gives MSPs complete visibility into the SaaS application landscape, enabling them to eliminate unapproved applications and gain valuable insights. These insights can then be leveraged to develop enhanced monitoring capabilities and practical policies around the use of shadow IT. The goal is to increase overall security and productivity, while also ensuring that shadow SaaS applications are used in a compliant and controlled manner.
DISCOVER’ core features include:
- Inventory: Gives visibility into customers' full list of SaaS apps. The list is then checked against a database of 22,000 SaaS applications to identify those that are not approved.
- Risk monitoring: Constantly monitors active applications in real-time, helping MSPs create safe use policies for their customers.
- Adoption and ROI metrics: Introduces transparency into each new application in the customer's IT environment, monitors consumption and return on investment.
- Schedule reports: Helps MSPs to create scheduled reports on changes in metrics such as new apps, visits, and most recent activity.
Grip is a SaaS security provider aimed at providing sufficient security to the applications that organizations use across different devices.
The shadow IT tool by Grip is known as «Discover Shadow SaaS» and is designed for automatic detection, mapping and mitigation of past, present and future SaaS risks. This includes abandoned SaaS applications, which can present a huge risk since they tend to be forgotten.
The discovery feature uses a zero-touch approach, and empowers organizations with up to 10 years of historical data, offering a comprehensive view of contextualized inventory insights, SaaS risk classification, and user authentication methods. The key functions of this feature include capturing, graphing, and identifying shadow SaaS usage, correlating shadow SaaS usage with users and authentication methods, and contextualizing inventory insights.
Mitigation is achieved by prioritizing risk across the SaaS layer. This makes it easy to identify risks like missing SSO, or active access for past users.
Continuous shadow IT detection and mapping means that organizations can catch any shadow SaaS, as soon as it’s introduced to their environment.
BetterCloud is a SaaS management platform that centralizes the administration of the SaaS environment, increases your visibility into SaaS usage and assists in allocating SaaS spending.
In terms of shadow IT, BetterCloud's App Discovery solution gives a 360 degree centralized SaaS visibility. This offers IT teams a single view of the entire app ecosystem within the organization.
This tool will easily discover all approved and unapproved SaaS apps through a combination of methods, including Oauth, SSO and integration.
All unapproved third party SaaS apps are automatically removed. The redundant ones are consolidated to save costs.
Also Read: Guide to Reducing IT Costs
Snow SaaS Management
This is a SaaS management solution by Snow, the optimization solutions company.
Their shadow IT tool, Snow SaaS Management, offers comprehensive visibility into the entire organization's SaaS environment, making it easy to discover unsanctioned applications that could be active in your network.
Wasteful and redundant applications are also discoverable, helping organizations to save money by ensuring that they are only spending on necessary applications. This also includes looking deep into each application's features and revealing any features that some employees may not need. With this information, you can effectively negotiate better terms.
Snow SaaS Management uses a database of over 8000 SaaS applications. You can also use the tool to collect usage data for common applications that may not be in their database. This is accomplished through a SaaS API connector. There is also a generic API connector for apps that are not common.
Flexera One is a versatile tool that helps organizations manage their entire technology infrastructure, including on-premises, SaaS, and cloud-based applications. It provides businesses with a holistic view of their IT ecosystem, enabling them to identify risks, reduce costs, and optimize technology investments. As a shadow IT tool, Flexera One also addresses the challenge of managing unauthorized software and cloud services usage, by providing visibility and control over these assets.
With Flexera One’s IT spend monitoring tool, you get a simple view of your IT spending. This is broken down to the main categories of applications as well as total spending across the ecosystem. A single view of all software and SaaS usage whether on premise or cloud provides rich data which you can use to bargain better terms.
According to Flexera, organizations waste about 31% of their spend on desktop software, 29% on data center software, and 29% on SaaS software. With Flexera One's visibility insights, you can cut down on this wastage.
This is a software asset management tool by EZO, the cloud-based applications company that builds tools aimed at improving profitability and simplifying operations. AssetSonar contains an automated discovery tool that fetches comprehensive details about all installed software on all the organization's IT assets. It’s integrated with Jamf Pro, Microsoft SCCM, and Intune.
A software license management feature takes away the common burden of using unlicensed software. This is important because employees might unknowingly use unlicensed software. But the organization will still be answerable since the employees are using it on the organization's environment, meaning the organization is benefiting. So it's important that you are always able to detect such software, and this tool does it automatically.
Constant reports and notifications keep you updated on the go. With this constant flow of information, you'll easily take note of software that is underutilized, identify users with the highest software spend and take note of potential areas where you can make savings. Whether it's a license or subscription due, you'll always be on top of things. This way, your employees will not have excuses to use alternative software at the slightest opportunity.
Incydr™ focuses on preventing insider threat by providing visibility, context and control aimed at stopping especially IP theft and data leak.
Shadow IT components such as web browsers, USBs, emails, and file sharing apps can present a huge insider risk. Incydr™ monitors the use of these components across the entire organization and acts on any potential risk. Something as subtle as an employee sending a file to their personal emails, knowingly or unknowingly, can easily go undetected by traditional security measures. But Incydr™ detects such loopholes and provides automated alerts to trigger corrective action.
Incydr makes use of Watchlists to programmatically identify and monitor employees that are most likely to leak data, then protects the data based on this mechanism. Examples could be employees who are about to leave the company or those who are always out in the field, constantly interacting with the external environment.
Invgate Insight is a shadow IT control tool developed by Invgate. It centralizes the discovery and monitoring of IT assets (physical, virtual and cloud) in a single platform. The tool's automated inventory tracking system can help IT teams identify and track these assets, providing them with a comprehensive view of all the hardware and software in use within their organization. This visibility can help IT teams better manage their IT infrastructure and reduce the risks associated with shadow IT.
Whether it's individual or group assets, you'll be able to discover them with ease. Any asset that does not meet organization and regulatory security standards is automatically flagged as soon as it's discovered.
The license compliance monitoring can help IT teams ensure that all assets are properly licensed and authorized for use, eliminating painful surprises as a result of using unlicensed products.
Another useful feature of Invgate Insight is its built-in Service Desk solution, which support teams can use for ticketing and workflow automation. The Service Desk can also be used by administrators and end users.
ManageEngine’s Applications Manager is an application performance monitoring tool designed to help IT teams monitor and manage their applications, servers, databases, and other IT components in the infrastructure. From the context of shadow IT, Applications Manager can be useful in identifying and managing unauthorized applications that may be running within a company's network.
One of the key features of Applications Manager is its ability to perform deep monitoring of applications and infrastructure components. This includes monitoring for performance metrics such as response times, availability, and error rates.
In addition, Applications Manager offers a range of reporting capabilities that can be useful in managing shadow IT. For example, the Real User Monitoring feature gives detailed performance metrics by geographies, browsers, types of devices, and ISPs. It also gives insights into user sessions & web transactions. This deep level of details makes it possible to detect anomalies in the applications being used.
ManageEngine was recognized in the Gartner 2022 «Peer Insights Customers' Choice» and «Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring & Observability».
A report released by Randori on the state of attack surface management indicates that 70% of the surveyed organizations (7 out of 10), reported that they have been compromised by shadow IT in the previous year. This is a shocking revelation that serves to demonstrate the high stake concerns that shadow IT is introducing to enterprises.
Employees often seek out these tools due to the perceived benefits they offer, particularly convenience. However, the use of these tools often goes unchecked by IT departments, leading to potential security vulnerabilities and data breaches. This is bound to get more serious as the use of cloud-based services is on the rise.
Implementing shadow IT risk tools can actually help reduce the risks associated with this trend. The shadow IT discovery tools here will help you uncover the complex web of unsanctioned tools that are constantly being introduced to your IT environment.
The level of visibility provided by shadow IT software offers a clear pathway for elimination of dangerous shadow IT while prudently managing those which bring value — it’s a win-win approach.
Shadow IT Tools FAQ
What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT refers to any technology (software, applications, devices) used within an organization without the knowledge or approval of the IT department. This can pose significant security and compliance risks.
What does it mean to "detect Shadow IT"?
Detecting Shadow IT means identifying unauthorized software, apps, or devices being used within an organization's IT infrastructure. This is often achieved using specialized Shadow IT detection tools, which can provide visibility into an organization's entire IT environment.
What are Shadow IT tools?
Shadow IT tools are software solutions designed to discover and manage the usage of unauthorized tech within an organization. They help in identifying unauthorized usage and enforcing security policies to prevent associated risks.
How does a Shadow IT tool work?
A Shadow IT tool typically works through a combination of discovery, risk assessment, analysis, and enforcement. It scans the IT environment, assesses the associated risks with each discovered unauthorized item, analyzes the data to detect patterns, and enforces security policies to manage the identified risks.
Why is it crucial to address Shadow IT in the organization?
Addressing Shadow IT is crucial as it poses significant risks, including security threats, data breaches, and compliance violations. Additionally, unmonitored usage of resources can result in cost inefficiencies.
What are some effective Shadow IT tools?
Some effective tools include Augmentt DISCOVER, Grip, BetterCloud, Snow SaaS Management, Flexera One, AssetSonar, Incydr™, Invgate Insight, and ManageEngineApplication Manager. These tools offer a range of capabilities from comprehensive visibility, risk monitoring, to enforcement of security policies.
How can Shadow IT tools help improve overall security and productivity?
Shadow IT tools improve security by identifying and mitigating the risks associated with unauthorized tech usage. In terms of productivity, these tools can help organizations understand tech usage patterns, remove redundant applications, and manage IT resources more efficiently.
How can I ensure that the Shadow IT tool I choose is the best for my organization?
The best Shadow IT tool for your organization depends on your specific needs. Consider factors like your IT environment, the level of Shadow IT risks, available resources, and your security policies. A good tool should offer comprehensive visibility, risk assessment capabilities, and enforceable security controls. You may need to combine multiple tools for a holistic solution.