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Shadow IT: To shut it down or embrace it?

Zafirah Salim | April 1, 2015
Steve Redman, APAC Vice President, Palo Alto Networks explains what Shadow IT is truly all about – its relevance to BYOD, the security risks and benefits it poses to a company, and how it affects the role of CIOs.

For example, an increase usage in cloud-based applications for data storage and sharing could suggest an investment for their own cloud infrastructure or in better security software that can mean continued usage of these with minimal risk.

Can you also recommend ways for CIOs to manage Shadow IT so as to minimise the risks associated with third-party apps and services, as well as with employees using their mobile devices in the workplace?

To effectively manage the issue of Shadow IT, enterprises should ensure that their security solution provides full visibility over network traffic. Full visibility means that you make no compromises in your security posture.

It also needs to remember that people will always be its first line of defence when it comes to security. It's crucial to have the right protocols in place, including training around the risks that exist and how a breach can happen.

According to a recent survey from BT Global Services, the majority of CIOs feel that their role is slowly becoming more redundant (due to the loss of control) - and the rising trend of Shadow IT is a huge contributing factor to this sentiment. How would you advise CIOs to remain relevant in spite of this trend?

I do not see the CIO's role becoming redundant in any way. It is quite the opposite in fact. The increased use of mobile devices, cloud and virtualisation technologies now offers many ways for cybercriminals to potentially find their way into enterprise networks.

Shadow IT adds a layer of complexity here, emphasising the importance of the CIO's role in monitoring the networks via various devices in order to prevent a breach from occurring. This is why businesses have to ensure that their security solution covers the network, cloud and end point; otherwise they may leave the network vulnerable to attack.

Shadow IT presents CIOs with a choice: either restrict the use of unregulated IT services, or acknowledge their increasingly important role in a Mobile First organisation and adapt to the new landscape. So at the end of the day, do you think organisations should attempt to 'shut down' Shadow IT, or learn to embrace it? Why so?

Despite the dangers associated with Shadow IT, CIOs should learn to embrace technology in order to reap the benefits it has to offer.

With the right solutions in place to allow CIOs to see exactly what is happening on the network in real-time, the CIO is well-placed to stop a breach in its tracks - identifying known and unknown threats, as well as increasing the company's productivity by enabling, rather than disabling devices and applications being used by its employees.


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