Join Us at the Black Hat CISO Event at Mandalay Bay on August 5 RSVP Now.×
Home » Spin.AI Blog » SSPM » SaaS Applications Risk Assessment » 3 Shadow IT Tools and 4 Rules to Manage Risky Apps
October 2, 2021 | Updated on: April 23, 2024 | Reading time 8 minutes

3 Shadow IT Tools and 4 Rules to Manage Risky Apps

Avatar photo

Vice President of Product

The number of employees who admit to using unauthorized apps, devices, or other technologies at work is about 40%—nearly half—at any given company. In this article, we discuss three shadow IT tools and four rules to manage it and improve your cybersecurity.

The odds are that by the beginning of 2022, it would be accountable for one in three security breaches.

And while some organizations have no idea about the concept and risks of shadow IT, others seem to demonize it and create extreme measures to fight this problem.

The best course of action, as usual, is somewhere in between.

Yes, your company is probably exposed to the risks of shadow IT this very minute. But does it mean you should ban every unauthorized usage of an application or a device?


The main thoughts from the Entrust Datacard Shadow IT Report for 2019 state that:

  1. Shadow IT can never be fully eradicated.
  2. If managed properly, shadow IT will shift from being a huge risk to being a huge benefit for companies.

If so, what steps can you take to make your organization benefit from shadow IT?

Rule 1: Make Third-Party Apps’ Usage Official

There is a saying, “If you can’t fight something, join it.”

It suits the situation perfectly; if you can’t fight shadow IT, so to control it, you need to acknowledge it first.

Only if this problem is spoken out on and officialized can shadow IT be regulated by mandatory rules that make its usage much safer for the company.

Moreover, making it official is going to help to increase productivity among your employees.

You see, the exact reason behind this unauthorized app usage is your employees’ striving for functionality. Long approval processes force them to bypass it and start using it without the IT department’s permission.

So why forbid this initiative when you can harness it and reap the benefits? You can do it by encouraging employees to test third-party applications freely.

Encourage curiosity and innovation in employees’ minds. It is the first step on your way to a more optimized workflow and better results overall.

But of course, letting your employees exercise their freedom should enforce your data security, not compromise it. Therefore, the use of third-party software is necessary.

For these purposes, we advise you to use the risky app assessment tool SpinSPM, which we speak about in the list of tools below.

Related: 14 Key Tools for Remote Work

Rule 2: Create an Ever-Expanding List of Approved and Banned Applications

As you connect all your employees’ G Suite accounts to the apps audit service, you will receive reports with the assessment of every application they use.

Depending on this information, you can transfer it further to your IT department, or use it as it is to create an official list of approved and banned applications.

Your employees will have a variety of secure applications to choose from that get their work done faster. The more it grows, the more self-sufficient it gets and the less it requires them to go elsewhere and search for unsafe alternatives.

Make this list as visible as possible, and speed up the process of the application approval.

Rule 3: Make Cyber Security Training Mandatory

The biggest risk to your data security is not malicious applications alone—it is your employees.

Thomas Reid once said, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” It doesn’t matter how many employees work in your organization—ten or ten thousand; every one of them must be aware and educated on the matter.

Moreover, we recommend renewing the information in training yearly and refreshing employees’ memory on the IT security matter.

Employees don’t know how to act securely over the internet, what they can or cannot provide, open, send, click.

Invest a little in their (and your) education, and you will reduce the risk of being hacked and compromised substantially.

Related: 7 Online Cyber Security Courses for Everybody

Rule 4: Set a Rule About Sensitive Information Sharing

Having your business data leaked or lost may become a big problem, but the situation with leaked sensitive data can become a real catastrophe.

If an employee that has given a risky app access to their email, cloud drive, or chat sends over it banking or personally identifiable information, it can be leaked and used by threat actors.

Sensitive information sharing can legally compromise the whole company and spill into enormous fines for noncompliance.

Make this rule clear outspoken and visible, set user permissions and file expiry dates, and use dedicated sharing platforms.

Also, use an option for sensitive information sharing monitoring in the SpinSPM tool we speak about below.

3 Shadow IT Tools For Efficient Management

Rules need tools to make them function. Here are three tools that play a significant role in managing shadow IT in today’s work environment.

1. Apps Audit Tool

Shadow IT tools

This shadow IT monitoring service conducts automated 24/7 scans of all third-party apps that are connected to the G Suite accounts of your employees to identify risky business apps and enhance information security. With this tool, the risk of your business data getting leaked or lost is minimized.

As we said, it helps to quickly create a list of banned applications you need to gather as part of rule 2. Rather than rely on two-factor authentication only, modern workplaces now opt for adaptive, behavioral-based solutions that analyze risk indicators to detect suspicious activity and risky applications.

There are only a few services presented on the market nowadays; even fewer are worth mentioning. You can do your own research; from our side, we advise you to check out a dedicated cybersecurity service, SpinSPM.

Check out the features

Request a demo

Get a free trial

2. Backup Tool

Tools to Control Shadow IT

One of the risks of shadow IT is data loss. If a third-party app or a web extension is run by a threat actor, it can infect your data with ransomware or delete it.

Not even talking about the risks of shadow IT, backup is an indispensable part of every organization where management knows how data losses cripple the business.

You can choose any backup service that meets your needs. We recommend you take a closer look at Spinbackup. It goes together with the SpinSPM tool but is a fully-featured backup service suitable for both small-to-medium businesses and enterprises.

Check out the features

Request a demo

Get a free trial

3. Ransomware Protection Tool

Shadow IT management tools

Shadow IT is not only about third-party applications, although now they are also becoming one of the main sources of ransomware.

But what you may not know is that ransomware can likewise seep through the unauthorized devices your employees bring to work and use every single day.

How does it happen? Mostly by exploiting these devices’ vulnerabilities and then, as these devices are connected to the work network, seeping into the network as well.

On the other side, having a backup can be not so effective against ransomware as it was before. Current ransomware has evolved into a quiet, lurking threat that doesn’t stand out before it infects all your backups.

Your workplace needs an AI-powered ransomware monitoring system that will detect a ransomware attack before it gets to your backups. SpinSecurity is a ransomware protection software that comes with the Spinbackup tool to protect backups from getting infected.

Check out the features

Request a demo

Get a free trial

Embrace shadow IT in a way that controls risks and keeps your organization safe and compliant. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people use shadow IT?

Employees use shadow IT for several reasons, including their need for flexibility, autonomy, productivity, or convenience. For instance, instead of using the company’s approved messengers, an employee decides to use a personal messaging app like WhatsApp for their convenience.

How can shadow IT monitoring help improve information security?

Shadow IT monitoring helps organizations proactively address security risks associated with using shadow applications and services. For example, SpinSPM shadow IT monitoring service conducts automated 24/7 scans of all third-party apps connected to your organization accounts to identify risky business apps and enhance information security.

What are some practical steps organizations can take to manage shadow IT effectively?

To effectively manage IT do the following simple steps:

  1. make the third-party app usage official
  2.  create a list of approved and banned applications
  3. make cybersecurity training mandatory for all your employees

use shadow IT monitoring services, like SpinSPM for your convenience.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!
Avatar photo

Written by

Vice President of Product at Spin.AI

Davit Asatryan is the Vice President of Product at Spin.AI

He is responsible for executing product strategy by overseeing the entire product lifecycle, with a focus on developing cutting-edge solutions to address the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats.

He has been with the company for over 5 years and specializes in SaaS Security, helping organizations battle Shadow IT, ransomware, and data leak issues.

Prior to joining Spin.AI, Davit gained experience by working in fintech startups and also received his Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. In his spare time, Davit enjoys traveling, playing soccer and tennis with his friends, and watching sports of any kind.

Featured Work:

How Can You Maximize SaaS Security Benefits?

Let's get started with a live demo

Latest blog posts

Mastering Disaster Recovery – Best Practices in 2024

From natural calamities to cyber threats and system failures, organizations face numerous challenges that can...

Avatar photo

Product Manager

Read more
SaaS backup and application governance

Expert Insights: SaaS Backup and Application Governance (Part 3)

Welcome back to our blog series on SaaS data protection. Part 1 focused on data...

Avatar photo

Former Gartner Analyst, Backup & Recovery

Read more

Protecting Your SaaS Environment: Insights from the Snowflake Incident

High-profile breaches are in the news more than ever before. However, data breaches are no...

Avatar photo

Product Manager

Read more