Creating a secure information technology (IT) infrastructure is essential to your business’s success. Statistics show that over half of all small businesses are forced to shut down within six months after succumbing to a data breach. Regardless of the industry in which your business operates, a secure IT infrastructure will protect it from data breaches. To create a secure IT infrastructure, though, you must avoid shadow IT.

What is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT is the use of unauthorized IT systems. IT systems can include computers, tablets, smart devices, software, apps and more.

Some businesses neglect to manage all of the IT systems on their respective IT infrastructure. They may authorize some IT systems while failing to authorize others. The term “shadow IT” describes the use of one or more unauthorized IT systems on an IT infrastructure.

What Are the Risks of Shadow IT?

When authorized IT systems are left unchecked, they can post various risks to your business and its IT infrastructure. Shadow IT will often create vulnerabilities in the form of outdated software. If you authorize IT systems beforehand, you can check them to ensure that they are up to update. If a device is running outdated software, you can reject it. With shadow IT, outdated software may go unnoticed, resulting in vulnerabilities that leave your business’s IT infrastructure susceptible to an attack.

Data breaches are closely correlated with shadow IT. There are intentional data breaches, and there are unintentional data breaches. both types of data breaches are more likely to occur with shadow IT. Intentional breaches may occur from vulnerabilities due to unauthorized IT systems. Unintentional data breaches, on the other hand, may occur from employees downloading data onto their personal, unprotected devices.

The Argument for Shadow IT

Even with its risks, some businesses embrace the concept of shadow IT. They don’t authorize IT systems beforehand. Instead, they allow all IT systems onto their IT infrastructure.

Shadow IT can save time. Employees, for instance, won’t have to seek authorization for their personal devices. Businesses that embrace shadow IT will typically allow their employees to use personal devices without authorization.

While it can save time, shadow IT comes at the cost of a less-secure IT infrastructure. It can place your business at risk for attacks and data breaches. If you’re conscious about creating a secure IT infrastructure, you should avoid shadow IT. Instead, only allow authorized IT systems onto your business’s IT infrastructure.