IT Leaders Face Network Control and Visibility Challenges

As if creating and maintaining a high-performing IT infrastructure wasn't enough of a challenge, today's tech leaders now face a new array of challenges in the form of network visibility and control issues. Largely a result of consumer-grade IT services making their way into the enterprise environment, organizations are encountering a number of problematic risk factors that open their operations up to many concerning vulnerabilities and weaknesses. You'll have to regain mastery of your domain with stronger policies and solutions if you want to actively combat these dangers and keep networks intact.

A scary state of affairs

Across the private and public sectors, organizations are letting their guard down with regard to cyber risk as employees continue to engage in risky file sending and sharing behavior. As a recent article from CSO Online pointed out, a study from the Ponemon Institute revealed some alarming facts about the oversights and shortcomings of network cyber security in this area of enterprise IT. The study showed that of the 1,100 IT professionals surveyed, half admitted to falling short of best practices by failing to remain accountable for corporate policies and data loss incidents.

The phenomenon known as shadow IT, in which employees leverage unauthorized applications to perform work-related tasks, is becoming riskier as the threat matrix expands along with the variety of apps available on the market. Even if you feel that your end users are making wise judgments with regard to their tech choices, the insight and control you sacrifice mean it's simply not worth the risk, according to CSO Online.

"The use of commercial-grade file sharing applications is putting sensitive and confidential company information at great risk," Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. "To address the threat, companies need to put in place policies and procedures for the appropriate use of these applications."

The productivity problem

Of course, it's easy to justify permission for shadow IT use when you see employees enjoying productivity gains - CSO Online pointed out that this dilemma is a common one in an age when efficiency and cost-effectiveness are paramount. Despite these advantages, Ponemon Institute found that organizations are severely compromising their infrastructure control by allowing shadow IT to take over, sometimes even admitting to looking the other way and deflecting accountability entirely.

"Management often turns a blind eye to the risks because these applications often make employees more productive," Ponemon continued, according to the source.

The report found that less than half (49 percent) of respondents had a clear view of their applications' performance and security, while 48 percent had a solid policy for file sharing and synchronization tools, authorized or not. Perhaps most disconcerting, however, was the fact that half of IT leaders claimed they had no way of controlling and managing user access to sensitive information, even if they wanted to regain authority over their networks. In light of these findings, something needs to change before shadow IT gets out of hand and risk runs rampant.

Going with the flow

Trite philosophical anecdotes aside, the importance of assessing and adjusting application deployments in accordance with the trends taking place within your organization's IT profile can't be overlooked, especially as employees become more tech-savvy and autonomous in their usage behaviors. Working closely with members of each department, as well as leveraging the professional support of a third-party service provider, is your best course of action when faced with the challenges laid out by the Ponemon Institute.

According to Information-Age, shadow IT can be your friend, if harnessed for good. By keeping a pulse on the undercurrents of shadow IT within your organization, you'll be able to satisfy end users' productivity needs and stakeholder security demands and achieve peace of mind for your tech teams as you continue to plow ahead in the digital age.