Friday, July 19, 2024

Security pros use unauthorized SaaS apps despite the risk


A new survey finds 73 percent of security professionals admit to using SaaS applications that have not been provided by their company’s IT team in the past year.

This is despite the fact that they are acutely aware of the risks, with respondents naming data loss (65 percent), lack of visibility and control (62 percent) and data breaches (52 percent) as the top risks of using unauthorized tools.

The study, from insider risk specialist Next DLP, surveyed more than 250 global security professionals at RSA Conference 2024 and Infosecurity Europe 2024. It finds that although there’s a laissez-faire attitude towards shadow SaaS, security professionals take a more cautious approach to GenAI usage. Half of the respondents highlight that AI use has been restricted to certain job functions and roles in their organization, while 16 percent have banned the technology completely. Adding to this, 46 percent of organizations have implemented tools and policies to control employees’ use of GenAI.

“Security professionals are clearly concerned about the security implications of GenAI and are taking a cautious approach,” says Next DLP’s chief security officer, Chris Denbigh-White. “However, the data protection risks associated with unsanctioned technology are not new. Awareness alone is insufficient without the necessary processes and tools. Organizations need full visibility into the tools employees use and how they use them. Only by understanding data usage can they implement effective policies and educate employees on the associated risks.”

The study also finds 40 percent of security professionals don’t think employees properly understand the data security risks associated with shadow SaaS and AI. Yet, they are doing little to combat this risk. Only 37 percent of have developed clear policies and consequences for using these tools, with even less (28 percent) promoting approved alternatives to combat usage. Only half have received guidance and updated policies on shadow SaaS and AI in the past six months, with one in five admitting to never receiving this. In addition, nearly one-fifth of security professionals are unaware of whether their company has updated policies or provided training on these risks.

“Clearly, there is a disparity between employee confidence in using these unauthorized tools and the organization’s ability to defend against the risks,” adds Denbigh-White. “Security teams should evaluate the extent of shadow SaaS and AI usage, identify frequently used tools, and provide approved alternatives. This will limit potential risks and ensure confidence is deserved, not misplaced.”

You can find out more on the Next DLP blog.

Image credit: olly18/

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