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The Persistence of Shadow IT and What CISOs Must Do Now

In this post:

  • Shadow IT Persists: Shadow IT remains a significant challenge in today’s digital landscape.
  • Generative AI’s New Role: Generative AI introduces fresh security concerns as employees experiment with tools like ChatGPT.
  • Balancing Security and Employee Needs: Striking the right balance between security measures and employee understanding is crucial to combating shadow IT.

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, businesses are grappling with the challenge of maintaining visibility over their networks and endpoints. However, an ever-persistent threat known as “shadow IT” further complicates the cybersecurity landscape. This clandestine practice, wherein employees utilize technology and applications beyond the purview of the IT department, poses substantial risks to data security and business operations. Despite the potential pitfalls, the allure of shadow IT lies in its promise to enhance efficiency and versatility, often driven by the need to accomplish tasks effectively. This article explores the evolution of shadow IT, its newfound manifestation in generative AI, and what cybersecurity leaders must do to protect their organizations in the remote age.

The evolution of shadow IT

Shadow IT is a shape-shifting adversary that adapts with emerging technology. In its early years, it manifested as isolated instances of employees resorting to personal email accounts or removable drives to circumvent company restrictions. The advent of cloud computing, specifically Software as a Service (SaaS), brought shadow IT into the mainstream. With a plethora of applications readily available, team members frequently install and use them without consulting the IT department.

The proliferation of remote work during the pandemic exacerbated the shadow IT problem. Remote users found it more convenient and tempting to bypass company policies from the comfort of their homes. Studies indicate that the use of shadow IT increased by nearly two-thirds due to the remote work boom.

The new threat is generative AI

In this era of generative AI, there is a novel dimension to the shadow IT challenge. Employees are enthusiastically experimenting with tasks and the power of ChatGPT, a prominent generative AI tool. However, adopting such tools often disregards IT clearance procedures, leading to security vulnerabilities. Shockingly, research indicates that 7 out of 10 workers using ChatGPT are not disclosing this to their supervisors, posing a significant risk to enterprise data security, particularly when sensitive data leaks through these third-party services.

What cybersecurity leaders must do now

The good news is that cybersecurity leaders can, and indeed must, mount a defense against shadow IT. The first step is to regain visibility over the corporate network. Achieving this involves monitoring for anomalous activities, tracking software downloads and installations, and scrutinizing data and workload migrations.

Once visibility is restored, the IT department can implement proactive measures. This includes setting up security alerts and blocking specific applications and websites. For instance, taking such simple yet powerful measures can effectively target known entities like ChatGPT.

However, in our ever-evolving digital landscape, new websites and applications continually emerge. Thus, solely relying on blocking these entities may prove insufficient. To address this vulnerability, it is imperative to deploy data protection tools that safeguard data during transit, ensuring sensitive information remains shielded from unauthorized access or exposure.

Moreover, enforcing strict restrictions that prevent the transfer of data to unapproved devices or applications enhances the overall security posture.

Employees will disobey

While technical solutions are crucial, the human element remains a significant factor in the persistence of shadow IT. Employees often resort to unsanctioned tools because they seek efficiency and enhanced productivity. It is essential to make them understand that the ends do not justify the means. Cybersecurity leaders must cultivate a culture of security awareness, treating employees as the first line of defense.

To address this issue effectively, leaders should strive to comprehend why employees turn to unsanctioned tools and explore secure alternatives. Bridging the gap between security protocols and employee demands through interactive training sessions is essential.

An adversarial stance towards employees only exacerbates the problem. Instead, collaborative efforts with other departments to understand their software requirements and tailor approved solutions foster a sense of partnership rather than enforcement.

Striking the right balance

In today’s business landscape, enterprises must strike the right balance between technical fortifications and human understanding. With the allure of new tools like ChatGPT tempting employees more than ever, cultivating a security-conscious strategy is paramount to curbing the draw of shadow IT.

The persistent threat of shadow IT continues to challenge cybersecurity leaders. However, by regaining visibility, implementing proactive security measures, and fostering a culture of security awareness, organizations can effectively mitigate the risks associated with shadow IT. In an ever-changing digital world, the battle against shadow IT is ongoing, and proactive cybersecurity measures are essential to protect sensitive data and maintain business operations.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified 5professional before making any investment decisions.

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