Shadow IT is a popular term these days. Shadow IT describes an employee or a department’s use of non-IT authorized or controlled tools. The term has evolved to include unauthorized use of cloud sharing SaaS and PaaS tools, such as personal Dropbox accounts.

Not sure if unauthorized file sharing is a problem? 46% of employees store confidential company data on their own file sharing accounts. Here’s a few questions you should ask yourself:

Can I tell my CEO — confidently — where all our files are stored right now? Who will ownership blame when they find out that our employees are using their own file sharing accounts because we don’t have an easy way to manage and share files?

If you can’t answer those questions satisfactorily, you probably have a compliance risk thanks to your company’s Shadow IT practices related to unauthorized file sharing.

Why Are Your Employees Going Rogue and Using Their Own File Sharing Product?

The key reason people use their own file sharing accounts is because it’s easier and more efficient than the tool they currently have. You might think your home-grown FTP client is easy — but it’s turning people off and they’re using their own tools — whether you like it or not.

Basically, your IT department causes the Shadow IT problem because your current solution is too hard-to-use or not easily accessible!

Easy-to-use isn’t something you can define. The lowest common denominator defines it for you. Something you think is easy could seem impossible for your least tech savvy employee.

Another key ingredient for unauthorized file sharing use is that your solution is an efficiency bottleneck. It just takes too many clicks to store or share a file securely.

Even Dropbox isn’t ideal — it’s just the solution your employees know. With Dropbox, employees need to install a program or an app on their mobile device before they can really use it. Their browser interface is too clunky and limiting to really use. While Dropbox has limitations, it’s still easier to use than your current solution.

So How Do You Eliminate Unauthorized File Sharing?

You probably won’t ever fully eliminate any Shadow IT problem. Even if you eliminate unauthorized programs, people will still email files or put them on their portable media storage device, such as their USB drives or their phone.

However, remember that a lot of your current tools create this problem and fail to help you monitor it. If you can, find out how often people use your current solution, either by asking (less accurate) or monitoring their usage behaviors (more accurate).

Since your tools create the problem, you can solve a lot of your own issues by dealing with the user’s primary problem. They want an easy and accessible tool to help them manage and share files. This tool needs to be easier to use than their current unauthorized solution as well.

Enterprise level file management and file sharing tools like SmartFile give you an accessible and easy-to-use on-premise or cloud solution that gives your employees a tool that is more accessible and easier-to-use than Dropbox. It’s also inherently more secure because you can monitor and manage all of their files.

Did a disgruntled employee delete an important file? SmartFile can send you an alert and you have 7 days to restore it. Are your employees trying to send large files or entire folders to China? They won’t have any luck with Dropbox or your email client — but they can send password protected files in just a few clicks.

Tools like SmartFile give you the ability to monitor compliance risks and because they’re so easy, employees will use them instead of their own file sharing accounts. This eliminates even more compliance concerns!

Remember, you need something that’s accessible and easy-to-use. However, it needs to be functional, secure and it needs to scale with your business. Don’t forget that when you’re considering ways to eliminate file sharing related Shadow IT problems. If you’re interested in seeing how SmartFile can help you alleviate file management and file sharing concerns, get an on-premise device quote or if you just need a product in the cloud, start a free 14 day trial.

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About Curtis Peterson

I'm the Digital Marketing Manager for SmartFile who loves content, email marketing and web analytics. As a child, I built awesome websites with animated starry night backgrounds and multi-colored font headers on AngelFire and GeoCities.

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