What is Shadow IT and How to address it

Remediating unsanctioned applications, often referred to as “shadow IT,” is crucial in a business environment for several reasons related to security, compliance, and operational efficiency. Unsolicited applications are software and services used within an organization without explicit approval from the IT department or compliance with the organization’s IT policies. Addressing these applications involves identifying, assessing, and either legitimizing, integrating, or discontinuing their use.

Security Risks

Data Breaches and Loss: Unsolicited applications can pose significant security risks as they may not adhere to the organization’s security standards. They can become easy targets for attackers looking to exploit vulnerabilities, leading to potential data breaches and loss.

Malware and Vulnerabilities: These applications often do not receive regular updates or security patches, making them susceptible to malware infections and exploitation by cyber attackers.

Unauthorized Access: They can allow unauthorized access to sensitive organizational data and systems, as they might bypass standard security controls and monitoring.

Compliance Issues

Regulatory Non-Compliance: Using unsanctioned software can lead to violations of regulatory requirements, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or SOX, potentially resulting in legal penalties and fines.

Data Sovereignty Violations: Data stored or transmitted by unsanctioned applications might not comply with data sovereignty laws, which dictate that certain data types must be stored within the country of origin.

Operational Challenges

Inefficiency and Duplication: Shadow IT can lead to inefficiencies and duplication of functionality across different tools, leading to wasted resources and increased costs.

Lack of Integration: Unsolicited applications might not integrate well with authorized systems, leading to data silos and inefficiencies in workflows and data analysis.

Support and Maintenance Challenges: IT departments may struggle to support and maintain unsanctioned applications, especially in the event of outages or security incidents, as they might not have access to or knowledge of these tools.

Remediation Strategies

Discovery and Inventory: Regularly scanning the network and using software inventory tools to identify all applications in use.

Risk Assessment: Evaluating the security, compliance, and operational risks associated with identified unsanctioned applications.

Policy Development and Enforcement: Establishing clear policies regarding software procurement and use, and enforcing these policies through user education and technological controls.

Secure Integration or Removal: Integrating unsanctioned applications into the official IT ecosystem securely, if they provide value, or safely removing them if they pose unacceptable risks.

User Education and Alternatives: Educating users about the risks of shadow IT and providing sanctioned alternatives that meet their needs.

Remediating unsanctioned applications is vital for maintaining the security, compliance, and operational integrity of an organization. It requires a balanced approach that addresses security and compliance risks while acknowledging and accommodating the business needs that lead users to seek out these solutions.


  • Cerby’s name is short for Cerberus, the Greek three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell. At Cerby, they prevent all hell from breaking loose when it comes to your unmanageable application security.