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Stop worrying about shadow IT security risks.

Discover and secure all SaaS and cloud apps, accounts, and assets with a full inventory of all accounts ever created in your organization—by anyone, anywhere, on any device.

Reclaim control of your security posture.

In just minutes, Nudge Security discovers, inventories, and continuously monitors every cloud and SaaS account employees have ever created. No network changes, endpoint agents, or browser extensions required.

Immediately spot supply chain risks.

Accelerate security reviews to match the pace of SaaS adoption with insights on each provider’s security, risk, and compliance programs. Gain visibility across the SaaS supply chain to know if you’re in the blast radius of a data breach.

Work with employees, not against them.

The only way to manage SaaS security at scale is to engage with your workforce—not block them. Deliver helpful security cues based on proven behavioral science to nudge employees toward better decisions and behaviors.

“Nudge Security’s trial was very easy to set up. The first value right out of the box was something I knew was going to happen: We had 16 people with licenses for two different applications that offer the same capabilities. We were paying double for something we shouldn’t have been using in the first place.”

Chris Castaldo

“Nudge Security is a pretty comprehensive product. I was impressed with what was available in the employee offboarding playbook. I haven’t found any other product that will actually reset passwords for accounts outside of SSO, and Nudge is unique in more ways than just that.”

Robbie Trencheny
Head of Infrastructure
Cars & Bids

“Whether they're ready to admit it or not, every security leader is contending with a sprawling mix of cloud and SaaS providers, permissions, accounts, and identities. Until now, this emerging attack surface has been largely invisible and vulnerable to the types of supply chain attacks in the headlines week after week. Nudge Security recognized that securing the SaaS supply chain is one of the core challenges of modern cybersecurity, and that’s why the Ballistic Ventures team was so eager to invest.”

Kevin Mandia
Strategic Partner
Ballistic Ventures

“For years, the industry has treated cybersecurity as a technology problem when, in fact, it is humans that play the biggest role in keeping enterprises cyber secure. Finally, Nudge Security has emerged to tackle the hardest soft problem in the industry—human behavior.”

Nicole Perlroth
Best-selling author

"Attack surfaces are growing more complex as organizations adopt new cloud and SaaS technologies across a globally distributed workforce. Nudge Security helps provide organizations with increased visibility into today's modern attack surface, and enlists all employees to help protect it."

Mario Duarte
Vice President of Security

"I am of the opinion that SaaS sprawl is a good thing, you have to give your team the flexibility to explore and discover new tools that will help them become more effective at their job. Ideally all those apps should be authenticating in a centralized way using an identity provider like Okta, however, in the real world, it is imperative to have mechanisms in place to account, find and manage the sprawling of those apps and nudge users to help secure the flow of information."

Hector Aguilar
Fmr. President of Technology & CTO

“Modern CIOs face a difficult balancing act enabling a highly distributed workforce with access to data and technology while trying to control the costs and risks associated with unchecked SaaS sprawl. Nudge Security strikes the right balance and helps modern organizations like ours manage the tide of SaaS sprawl without constraining employees’ abilities to move the business forward.”

AJ Beard
VP Applications and IT
Unify Consulting

“Adversaries are constantly finding new ways to socially engineer employees and attack the vast supply chain of SaaS applications they’re using to gain access to organizations. Every CISO is aware of the challenge they’re up against, and now it’s our job to make sure every CISO knows about Nudge Security and the way they enable employees to be a key part of an enterprise’s defense.”

Roger Thornton
Founding Partner
Ballistic Ventures

“Today, every employee acts as their own CIO and can easily reach for a new cloud or SaaS tool to solve virtually any problem. While organizations see massive gains in productivity and employee satisfaction from such unencumbered IT adoption, cybersecurity has been slow to adapt.”

Ed Amoroso
Founder and CEO
TAG Infosphere
Former CSO

“The work that Jaime and Russell did together at AlienVault to build the Open Threat Exchange changed the way threat researchers and practitioners shared intelligence. As a longtime customer, it was a no-brainer for Castra to sign on as one of the first Nudge Security customers. We’re excited about the potential to use this groundbreaking technology to improve service delivery for our customers.”

Grant Leonard

“As more data moves to cloud and SaaS environments, threat actors are turning their sights on assets and user credentials of which security teams may have little to no awareness. Nudge Security has an innovative approach that helps security teams shore up their defenses against cloud and SaaS threats, starting at the critical point of making the unknown known.”

Chris Doman
Co-founder and CTO
Cado Security

“Even in cybersecurity, people’s attitudes and emotions are strong predictors of their behaviors. Security leaders are setting themselves up for failure when they implement security controls and policies under the false notion that employees will comply unconditionally, regardless of how frustrating or unreasonable they find the experience to be.”

Dr. Aaron Kay, PhD
J Rex Fuqua Professor of Management
Duke University
Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience
Duke University

“Security teams need to focus on fighting real adversaries, not their colleagues. Nudge Security alleviates the time spent chasing down employees to get them to follow security policies, and it does so in a friendly, automated way that’s much more effective and less stressful for everyone involved.”

Kunal Anand

“In today's SaaS-fueled enterprise, monitoring access at the network layer is no longer enough. Context is key, and 'SaaS context as control' becomes the basis for implementing modern identity- and data-based security controls. Nudge Security innovates beyond other cloud and SaaS security technologies by providing SaaS context quickly and efficiently across all applications and user accounts, managed and unmanaged, enabling security and IT professionals to modernize their SaaS governance efforts.”

Frank Dickson
Group Vice President, Security & Trust

"I recently had a chance to try out Nudge Security and the experience was amazing! Here is what I found awesome: They made it super easy to get started (configured in 5 mins). There were zero super aggressive sales tactics. Instead of hundreds of alerts, I got to see which ones mattered most right now. There are no heavy handed controls, it's based on 'nudging' users to make better security choices."

Damian Tommasino
Sales Engineer
Cyber Informants

Shadow IT risks: A modern security challenge

The days of rogue hardware installs are fading, but shadow IT persists in a new form. Unsanctioned SaaS applications, unmanaged cloud accounts, and rogue dev tools pose serious risks—even when well-intentioned.

Where do today’s shadow IT risks lurk?

  • Unsanctioned cloud workloads: Employees setting up cloud tools with personal accounts
  • SaaS subscriptions outside IT control: Departments purchasing software without IT approval and users signing up for free software trials 
  • Public cloud misuse: Files stored and shared through platforms like developer tools

It’s not always malicious. Unlike cyberattacks, shadow IT often stems from convenience or a need for flexible solutions. Employees might use Zoom when facing issues with WebEx, or spin up a free trial to test out a new app before kicking off a formal approval and purchasing process.

Why it matters: Even unintentional shadow IT breaches data security protocols and compliance standards. This leaves organizations vulnerable.

The driving force behind the increase in shadow SaaS is the necessity for fast, flexible, and unencumbered access to different cloud-based tools and applications. And, with more and more employees working remotely vs. in an office, it’s more difficult for centralized IT teams to retain visibility (and control) over which applications are used.

How shadow IT impacts security posture

Those creating shadow IT by adopting new technology do it because it’s beneficial to them: they get faster access to needed resources, they avoid burdening a small IT team, and they improve communication and collaboration with the latest tools. Granted, all these advantages enhance efficiency and drive innovation. However, shadow IT also presents significant risks to an organization. 

The stats are sobering. According to a 2023 Gartner predictions report, 41% of employees acquired, modified, or created technology outside of IT’s visibility in 2022, and that number is expected to climb to 75% by 2027. Capterra’s 2023 shadow IT and project management survey reported a majority (57%) of small and midsize businesses have experienced significant shadow IT growth happening under their noses. 

Shadow IT is more than a minor nuisance; it greatly affects the security posture of an organization. Capterra’s 2023 study mentioned above also found that 76% of respondents perceived shadow IT as a “moderate to severe cybersecurity threat to the business.”

What are the primary shadow IT risks?

Shadow IT presents several tangible risks, including: 

  • An expanded attack surface
  • Data insecurity (due to data being stored in unsanctioned resources) 
  • Non-compliance with regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR, which can lead to penalties and potential legal action
  • Inefficient business practices (which leads to increased costs)

One of the key intangible risks is the lack of visibility and control, as shadow IT often escapes the scrutiny of the IT security team. Vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and policy violations might remain undetected, increasing data breach and non-compliance risks.

Perhaps even more concerning, shadow IT can lead to data loss, since data stored in an  unmanaged account might not be accessible for the company. When employees resign or are terminated, the business could lose access to those cloud-stored assets.


Each instance of shadow IT expands the organization's attack surface. These unprotected assets could serve as entry points for a cybercriminal attack. Other indirect costs that shadow IT can introduce outside of noncompliance penalties include reputational damage following a data breach, and intense workloads if the SaaS service experiences a breach, needs to be migrated or decommissioned.

Think shadow IT isn’t happening at your company? According to Nudge Security data, a new SaaS asset is created roughly every 20 minutes per 1,000 people in an organization. This frequency underscores the urgent need for businesses to address and manage shadow IT effectively, especially in the realm of SaaS applications.

Watch out for the SaaS sprawl blindspots.

Digital transformation, cloud migration, and the hybrid workforce have combined to introduce unique blind spots and vulnerabilities for shadow IT. Most notable is through free trials and OAuth grants, which organizations must navigate to safeguard their digital assets.

Consider the allure of SaaS applications: their ease of access, the promise of increased productivity, and the autonomy they offer to individual users and departments. However, this allure often leads to the unchecked proliferation of accounts and data.

A few examples: A company uses Google Docs, but an employee needs the formatting capabilities in Word, so they sign up for a free trial of Office 365. Or the marketing team uses Asana to track projects, but prefers the card layout of Trello, and decides to try it for themselves. Or the sales team uses Salesforce, but prefers the email marketing functionality of MailChimp, and secretly subscribes. 

These incidents highlight the critical blind spots in shadow IT, where even well-intentioned actions can lead to significant security breaches.

OAuth grants: A shadow IT gateway 

OAuth grants have become a double-edged sword. Designed to streamline user experience by allowing third-party applications access to user data without sharing login credentials, 

OAuth (Open Authorization) grants are widely used online to allow users to log into a new web service using their existing account details from another service (for example, “Login with Google” or “Login with Facebook”), or to enable app-to-app integrations.

This permission-granting process works by using “tokens.” Instead of revealing the username and password credentials to the third-party service, the service is given a unique token. This token is generated by the resource provider (let's say Google), and can be read by the third-party application to confirm that the user has allowed access to their data.

Remember, these types of OAuth grants have both benefits and significant potential security risks involved. While they offer a streamlined user experience, they can create opportunities for attackers to circumvent traditional security measures and gain “back door” access to accounts.

Mitigating shadow SaaS IT risks

To combat the risks associated with shadow SaaS, organizations must adopt a multifaceted approach. The strategy should include:

Enhanced visibility and control: As employees adopt newSaaS applications for their tasks, new SaaS security risks are introduced. Adding visibility means establishing mechanisms to discover and report on the organization’s software ecosystem. Software solutions like Nudge Security offer this functionality to discover all SaaS accounts, who is using them, and how they're being used. Once IT teams have this information, they gain control over the SaaS environment to manage applications better—including removing redundant software, reallocating licenses, or identifying unauthorized app usage.

Robust security measures: Given the potential security and compliance risks associated with shadow IT, it's critical that organizations adopt strong security measures, like implementing a Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs). CASBs reside between the organization's on-premises infrastructure and the cloud provider's infrastructure, allowing the company to extend its security policies beyond its own network. While CASBs have been the preferred solution for controlling shadow IT in the past, with more work happening outside of the corporate network, their effectiveness is declining

It’s important to note that unlike a CASB or SASE solution, Nudge Security does not touch the corporate network or endpoints. It does not require your employees to be on a VPN or corporate network to work, nor does it require you to do an enterprise roll-out of an agent. It just works no matter what device the employee is using or where they are using it from.

Employee education and awareness: One of the leading causes of shadow IT is the lack of awareness among employees about the risks associated with the unsanctioned use of software. Remember, productivity often trumps security. Regular training sessions should be conducted frequently to educate employees about these risks. But security awareness training can only go so far; employees need relevant and accurate guidance in real time, at the moment when it’s most valuable (i.e. security nudges). Awareness campaigns should also emphasize the significance of adhering to the organization's approved SaaS applications and protocols to minimize the emergence of shadow IT.

Governance in SaaS use: Clear policies are the foundation of any organization's software use; however, their mere existence is not sufficient. A continuous, governance-oriented approach is crucial, which involves identifying which SaaS applications are approved for use in the organization, the specific circumstances under which employees can use them, and assigning authorization for software installation and usage. This kind of approach to SaaS governance would also provide guidance (best if enforced autonomously with a nudge) when an employee encounters a need for a SaaS application outside of the approved list. Key elements of this approach include regular audit trails for SaaS usage, with automatic alerts for unusual or unapproved use patterns. Governance is also best when these policies are up-to-date with evolving organizational SaaS needs, relevant legal changes, and preparing for new SaaS platforms catering to business needs. The focus is not to punish, but to guide, enabling an overall environment of policy adherence and enhanced security.

Take control of your shadow IT.

As organizations continue to navigate the complexities of digital transformation, managing shadow IT—especially within SaaS applications—remains a monumental challenge. By understanding the unique risks and implementing strategic measures to address them, businesses can safeguard their digital assets against the vulnerabilities introduced by shadow IT. 

Embracing a proactive and informed approach is essential. That’s why there’s so much power in platforms like Nudge Security. With Nudge Security, you can work with employees, not against them, to:

  • Deliver helpful security cues based on proven behavioral science
  • Educate employees about the importance of data security
  • Gather real-time context on what tools employees are using and why

Learn more about how Nudge Security works to control shadow IT and try it free today to discover what cloud and SaaS applications are currently in use at your organization.

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