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“Where is my data?!” Here’s 3 reasons to be worried

Your job is to keep your organisation’s data secure. You follow all the latest secure computing guidelines and have more certifications than a PHD doctor. Basically, you’re doing a top-notch job.

An important aspect of your role, is to ensure your staff are only using the systems signed off by IT.

This might include Outlook for email, (you should be cutting back on this by the way!) Microsoft Sharepoint, (we feel sorry for you!) and other types of software used by your business on a daily basis.

There’s a problem though. One that is lurking over your shoulder, in your blind spot, out of view from prying IT eyes.

Running in the shadows

We’re talking about shadow IT.

No, this isn’t software or systems left in a dark, abandoned cupboard in your office. It refers to projects being managed using products or software not authorised by your IT department.

According to a study by Frost & Sullivan, “You can expect that upwards of 35% of all SaaS apps in your company are purchased without oversight”.

You may not consider this a problem. As long as your colleagues can do their job and be productive, does it really matter what tools they use?

Yes, it does! Look at it this way. Fleetwood Mac famously sang of running in the shadows and never breaking the chain that’s keeping them together.

They might not have been referring to IT systems, but the analogy still holds true. All these tools are hidden in the shadows and you need a way to bring them all together.

I’ll come onto that later. Now, I’m going to look at why shadow IT poses such a big threat to your organisation.

Data hosting

When assessing cloud software, one big question you have to ask vendors is where they will host your data and what security measures they have in place to protect it.

Once you have read through all of the paperwork, (some great bedtime reading for you there!) and seen the data centre, (a nice day out of the office,) you feel happy. Happy in the knowledge that your data is secure.

But what about the other tools your staff are using? You know, the ones you have no idea about.

In both small and large organisations, staff will be using multiple tools, (under the radar, of course,) to do their job. This means your data is potentially hosted in multiple locations and you have no idea what security measures each platform has in place.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that 46% of large enterprises already using the cloud limit their use of cloud services because they are unsure of the location of their data.

Multiple data silos

multiple data silos

In order to deliver successful projects, it must be made easy for staff to collaborate with external partners, such as clients and suppliers.

I know what you’re thinking – just use email. But if you’ve ever tried to keep track of multiple conversations and comments on documents you will know why this isn’t an option!

The alternative is to configure your existing internal collaboration system to do the job. But they aren’t designed for external collaboration. It’s like asking Usain Bolt to run a marathon. He would probably give it a go, but it’s not really playing to his natural strengths.

Because these enterprise IT systems fail, each project team buy their own tools to get the job done. This can include separate tools for functions such as surveys, task lists and file sharing for example. As previously mentioned, this will give you a big security headache.

But that’s not the only issue. With multiple data silos now created, you face further problems such as:

  • Wasted resources and productivity
  • Increased cloud storage costs
  • No single source of truth – i.e. no idea which set of data is the most up-to-date
  • Losing track of lessons learned from a project. Key findings just get forgotten about3!

Increased risk of data breaches

I shouldn’t have to tell you that data breaches aren’t fun. They aren’t fun for employees, for CEOs and most of all for IT managers. It’s the stuff from their nightmares!

It’s also costly. According to IBM’s and the Ponemon Institute’s annual ‘Cost of Data Breach Survey,’ the average cost of a data breach is $3.62 million. This is up 17% since 2013.

No organisation can afford to lose that much. Well, maybe a certain few! In any case, the most serious damage is reputational rather than monetary. Just ask these guys.

You can guess what I’m going to say. Shadow IT increases the risk of data breaches in your organisation.

It’s obvious really. The more tools being used by your staff the more opportunity there is for data to be leaked or fall into the wrong hands. Then you have the issue trying to figure out what data has been comprised – not an easy task when you have data spread everywhere.

More tools also mean more passwords for your colleagues to remember. The average person has 27 different passwords for various accounts spanning both personal and work use. Even if they can remember their password, can they be trusted to create secure ones and not just use ‘password123’…. or similar? If not, you have a big problem.

What can you do about it?

online workspace

Remember my fantastic Fleetwood Mac analogy? OK, it wasn’t that great…

But my point is, you need to link of all your tools together, creating a chain of data connecting your internal teams with each other and their external partners.

That’s where online collaboration tools come in. Your teams can share data securely in one secure online workspace, with the tools they need to do their job.

Read our blog post to find out more about why you should be using an online collaboration tool in your organisation.

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