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Shadow IT – The Reality Is Here

Access cloud services without compromising security

A recent survey has shown that security policies and rules set down by IT departments are not just being ignored but having a bus driven through them by staff and senior executives, who wish to bring their own device to work so that they can do more, work smarter and be in touch all of the time.

The survey shows that almost three-quarters of respondents would not bet against their own organization having a data breach within the next 12 months.

This along with other responses shows that the IT Department of 2013 is a long way from the IT Department of just five years ago, where what they said may not have been liked but was generally adhered to and, if it was not, sanctions could come into effect.

Today's rise in BYOD means that every user is in effect his or her own IT department, able to bring in and out of the office just about any file they see fit. Even if an organization has banned the use of cloud-based file stores, users can now just email a file to themselves, download the email on their smartphone and carry on working on that file when away from their office. This opens up a major security hole.

It's time that the IT department became wise to this. Not by banning external email use or cloud storage services, but by giving the users what they are looking for. Radical thinking in many organizations I know. But think about it - by working with the users and not against them, by giving them the tools that they want, which enables them to do their job well, means the IT department can get back control. You get the control of your budget back, as people will start to come back and ask advice on which device they should use. You even get control over which software the user should place on that device. Even more important than this control you get your users back as they start to respect once more what the department does and why it is doing it.

Shadow IT is not a threat to the IT Department or security of an organization's data. It is a new way of working, which allows users and IT Departments more freedom to work together in a more sustainable way. With most cloud-based services having open APIs that enable third-party software vendors to add security and functionality to their services, IT departments are now in the lucky position of having a range of very good applications that help their users access cloud services, without compromising security. All they need to do is to start welcoming this change and seeing it as a way forward and not as a challenge.

More Stories By Simon Bain

Simon Bain is Founder & CEO of SearchYourCloud. He is a highly respected figure in the structured markup industry and a frequent spokesman on XML applications. His recent successes include development in XML of the first secure e-voting application in the world to be authorized for use across interactive digital TV. Previously, Simon consulted for SoftQuad for several years, providing customer integrations and XML expertise. He delivered the first XML introductory seminar for IBM and is on the Board of the Sun Microsystems User Group. Simon will continue to develop SearchYourCloud to meet market requirements and commercial opportunities.

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