What Is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT has always been an IT security issue for businesses, but now that many more employees are working from home and everyone has their own preferred work setup, this has become a much larger issue. 

There’s no better time than now to answer the important question, “what is shadow IT?”

Shadow IT refers to software that employees at your company use without your knowledge to store your company data for their work convenience. Trello and Dropbox are common examples. Shadow IT can have little to no impact on your IT security, but if the software is hacked, your sensitive business data could end up in criminals’ hands. This could lead to costly non-compliance fines and reputation damage. Fortunately, the friendly IT experts at Interplay help find and secure shadow IT for you. Learn more.

What Is Shadow IT?

“Shadow IT” refers to IT software that is outside the control or ownership of your company. In practical terms, this means shadow IT can refer to any place where your company data is stored without your knowledge, including: 

  • Free cloud-based applications that employees like, such as Trello or Dropbox
  • Employee personal email
  • Employees’ personal Microsoft 365 account tools, like personal Word or Excel apps on their laptop

What’s the Big Deal?

You may be thinking that it’s not really a big deal if employees use their own software to get their work done more efficiently. After all, everyone wants their employees to get more done in less time. Really, what’s it going to do? 

To that, we say: Maybe the shadow IT at your organization isn’t a big deal… or maybe it is. 

Look, we’re not here to scare you about shadow IT. That’s not our style. Instead, we’re here to gently remind you that shadow IT puts your company at risk because it places potentially sensitive data outside your control. If you don’t know where data is, you can’t delete it or secure it properly – and since cloud-based applications get hacked pretty darn often, shadow IT can lead to a lot of data leaks with potentially costly fallout. 

Interplay Can Help You Find and Secure Shadow IT

Again, we’re not here to scare you. We’re just here to answer the question “what is shadow IT,” so you can make informed decisions about the likely rampant shadow IT usage that’s going at your organization right now. 

Also, we’re here to help you get that shadow IT under control, so you can feel confident about your data security again. 

Often, employees turn to shadow IT as a workaround for what they see as clunky, inefficient, or hard-to-learn business software, or because they don’t realize their company already offers similar tools. Unfortunately, without a strong, central IT authority creating policies and guiding staff on correct usage, employees and departments are likely to choose what they’re familiar with and what they know works: shadow IT. 

Just to say so: this isn’t your fault. Shadow IT is a very common issue. An expert team of Managed Services Providers (MSPs) like Interplay can help you identify shadow IT and help you build policy around the proper use of IT tools so the staff understands why they should use approved solutions. 

Of course, that’s not to say that the employees are wrong. Sometimes they’re onto something, and the software they’re using would actually be a better choice for your company. Assessing shadow IT properly takes a lot of effort and a lot of knowledge about effective data management practices. 

When you work with the Seattle-based friendly IT experts at Interplay, you’ll have comprehensive IT security help, so you can gain insight into what cloud based applications your employees are using, control any unauthorized usage immediately, and clearly compare the shadow IT to the tools you are currently using. That way, you can make sure you’re getting the best deal on the most efficient solutions for your organization. 

(And that’s only one small part of the full range of services you are guaranteed to get when you work with Interplay!)


Sound good? Reach out to Interplay to learn more. 

For 20 years, the friendly and knowledgeable IT team at Interplay has helped business leaders across a range of industries get more out of their tech, stress free. Not only are we always (and we mean always) happy to offer the best managed IT services, support, and advice, we’re also the team you can trust for the best cocktail recommendations here in Seattle or in Disney World – we’re versatile! All humor aside though, we’d love to help you get your IT running smoothly and securely, around the clock.


Photo by Kari Shea from Unsplash