Shadow IT examples

‘Shadow information technology’ (IT) refers to any software, hardware or IT resource used on an enterprise’s network without knowledge, approval or oversight from individuals in charge, such as members of a company’s IT department. Examples of shadow IT include unsanctioned third-party software, apps and services, including cloud services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, along with employees’ personal devices.

Shadow IT has become inevitable in today’s workplaces, prompting business leaders to employ more robust IT governance frameworks and IT modernization strategies–with help from tools such as an IT management solutions like Flexera One–to mitigate their risks.

What is shadow IT?

Shadow IT is any IT asset or resource used in a company that’s not sanctioned by the IT department. It doesn’t include malware nor does it necessarily come with malicious intent from its users.

Employees who adopt shadow IT usually do so because it has proven to be functional for the purposes they need–usually in a way that’s better than the resources provided by IT.

Risks of shadow IT

Because the nature of shadow IT is that it’s unsanctioned, IT teams are typically unable to monitor these assets, making them a potential risk to the overall health and security of an organization’s IT system.

Some of the top risks of shadow IT include:

  • Loss of visibility and control: IT teams lose visibility and control of IT assets, putting the entire organization at risk of potential threats.
  • Cost: New and similar systems may be in use by teams that serve the same purpose of software that has already been paid for and provisioned.
  • Data insecurity: Sensitive data may be accessed by unauthorized personnel, shared on platforms that are not monitored by IT teams, and inconsistencies with data may arise.
  • Security gaps: Unsanctioned use of devices or data may put the company in a vulnerable state for cybersecurity attacks.
  • Compliance issues: Shadow IT may violate data privacy regulations, leading to fines and other legal sanctions to be shouldered by the organization.
  • Operational inefficiencies: Shadow IT may not integrate properly with the company’s IT infrastructure, disrupting the productivity and efficiency of users.

Examples of shadow IT

Many types of shadow IT could pose a risk to businesses. Here are some of the top examples:


Identify, assess and mitigate IT risks (cybersecurity threats, data breaches, shadow IT examples, etc.)

Personal devices like laptops, smartphones and storage devices (USB disks and hard drives) are examples of shadow IT. Employees often use these assets to access, store or transmit data remotely, and IT departments may find it difficult to discover and monitor these resources with traditional asset management systems.

Other smart devices that may connect to the company’s network, such as fitness trackers, cameras, wireless printers and smart TVs, may also be considered to be shadow IT.

Cloud services and SaaS applications

Cloud services and SaaS applications are some of the most common forms of shadow IT. Users typically utilize these using local accounts that aren’t managed by IT, so they don’t follow the same security procedures. For instance, they may lack access limitations or don’t use authentication measures for extra security, which could be dangerous for the network.

Examples of this type of shadow IT include:

  • Productivity apps like Trello and Asana
  • Cloud storage, file-sharing and document-editing applications such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive
  • Communication apps like Skype, Slack, WhatsApp, Zoom, Signal and Telegram

Personal email accounts also fall under this category as an example of shadow IT.

Local applications

Similarly, local applications can also be seen as shadow IT. These one-off apps are commonly deployed on servers and workstations as a way to locally manage tasks or resources.

Manage shadow IT with Flexera One

Mitigating the risks of shadow IT is not a one-size-fits-all solution. But whatever strategies you take will become more successful when you complement them with the right IT asset management software.

Flexera One is designed to help you better manage your company’s IT resources for a more seamless infrastructure. Contact us to learn more about how it can help you manage shadow IT!