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How to Help Clients Identify, Deal With ‘Shadow IT’

By Kelly Teal
January 09, 2015 - News

A new report is underscoring what most channel partners already know: Decision-making about technology purchases has moved past the IT department and into the boardroom. So here’s what comes as the most interesting or actionable tidbit – executives need help implementing and enforcing policies and processes that drive growth without compromising security, compliance, or corporate data. Enter the holistic channel partner.

Findings from a recent Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) survey show that that 61 percent of company leaders, rather than IT staff, now make the call about moving data in to the cloud. At the same time, almost 72 percent of these executives do not know which or how many unauthorized apps abound within their organizations, a circumstance now referred to as “shadow IT." For businesses with more than 5,000 workers, that figure grows even higher, to 80 percent, CSA found.

That’s a dangerous situation because employees may rely on apps that don’t meet regulatory, corporate or other standards, jeopardizing data security. Channel partners – in particular, MSPs, systems integrators, and VARs and agents focused on hardware and services – should view this gap as an opportunity to guide customers. Someone needs to identify the number and type of apps, including those in the cloud, in use throughout a company and vet them for security, compliance and policy enforcement. From there, someone needs to construct procedures that will aid in protecting company information. That someone should be the partner who understands all aspects of business technology.

With that in mind, here are three key best practices that will go a long way toward preventing problems:

Track down which apps employees depend on to conduct business. From there, help the client determine which ones are all right and which need to be blocked or, better yet, upgraded to a business version. For example, 80 percent of CSA survey respondents are more likely to block Dropbox over Facebook. And yet, Dropbox (and services like it) helps people collaborate regardless of device or time zone. In this scenario, a channel partner would do well to replace unguarded instances of Dropbox with a collaboration platform built for businesses (there is a Dropbox for Business, but not everyone wants to use that brand).  

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