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Reduce shadow IT risks in Microsoft 365 with this online learning course

Are you interested in learning how to prevent shadow IT in your organization? We’ve got a free course covering all the harm it can cause, like security and compliance issues and risks, and how to address them—it’s good stuff. There’s no time like the present, so click below to start!

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Course details

100% online

For IT admins, IT managers

25 minutes to complete

Shareable certificate

Offered in English

Do at your own pace


What you’ll learn in our course to minimize the Shadow IT risk:

  • The consequences of not managing shadow IT
  • What shadow IT is and why it happens
  • How to discover shadow IT in your environment
  • How to avoid shadow IT
  • Processes and policies to mitigate shadow IT
  • The surprising relationship between self-service and shadow IT
  • How to set achievable, measurable goals for your Microsoft 365 strategy
  • How automation can help decrease shadow IT

The risks of shadow IT: Why its important, and why you need to protect your sensitive data

Shadow IT is when people in your organization use apps and services without authorization from the IT department. Without a plan to prevent it, shadow IT can cause serious security risks, data leaks, negatively impact costs and collaboration, and lead to all kinds of scary stuff.

IT departement risks:

  • Security gaps: Shadow IT can expose your organization and cloud services to security threats because it bypasses proper controls and protocols, making it difficult to detect and protect against major risks like unauthorized access, data breaches, and malware infections.
  • Cost: Organizations invest time and money into creating a Microsoft 365 working cloud environment. Unnecessary software and service duplication results in wasted resources and increased IT costs.
  • Collaboration: Microsoft 365’s cross-service collaboration is why so many organizations use it. If some employees opt to use other services, like Google Docs or Slack, it negatively impacts communication and collaboration due to confusion and duplication of work.
  • Data integrity: Shadow IT can create issues with company data synchronization when scattered across different unauthorized tools or platforms, increasing the risk of sensitive data loss, corruption, or outdated information at the front of decision-making—the scary stuff! 

Managing shadow IT in Microsoft 365’s cloud services course overview

It’s not all doom and gloom! This free course—which is part of our Microsoft 365 Maturity Program—teaches you how to minimize shadow IT risk by actively managing it with a blueprint for success. The course explains how to spot shadow IT, what policies to put in place to mitigate it, and the surprising relationship between self-serve and shadow IT. Let’s make your organization’s online environment safer, better, and more productive.

1/3 of successful cyber attacks are on critical data, located in shadow IT resources.


Summary of the course

This course is divided into 5 modules and 8 lessons:

Module 1: Welcome to the Microsoft 365 Maturity Program course on shadow IT (2 mins)
Module 2: The importance of managing shadow IT  (2 mins)
Module 3: What is shadow IT? (7 mins)
Module 4: How to avoid shadow IT (8 mins)  
Module 5: Overview: How to manage shadow IT in Microsoft 365 (2 mins)
25 minutes to complete
M365 Maturity Program Cta

Free Assessment

Not sure where to start?

Assess how your unique Microsoft 365 environment is performing for free with our online tool. It only takes 10 minutes, and you’ll get personalized results and tips for improvement.

About ShareGate Academy

ShareGate Academy is ShareGate’s learning platform. We offer free online courses on all kinds of Microsoft 365 topics, from adoption to sprawl, from Microsoft Teams to SharePoint. ShareGate Academy is here to help IT pros expand their knowledge so they can work smarter, not harder.

We also aim to help you in a way that helps your end users be more productive. With the rise of hybrid work, IT is increasingly crucial to the employee experience and your organization’s success. The better managed your Microsoft 365 environment, the more likely your end users are to use the tools you provide them, which will maximize the value of your investment in Microsoft 365

Course contributors

Elle Crosby

Elle Crosby is the Senior Content Producer at ShareGate. For more than 3 years, Elle has been sharing IT knowledge through ShareGate blogs, eBooks, webinars, and more by demystifying Microsoft 365, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams operations.

Samuel Martineau

Accompanied by Samuel Martineau, Solutions Architect at ShareGate, Samuel is presenting and spreading the importance of having a clear Microsoft 365 management strategy at conferences and in ShareGate’s Microsoft 365 Maturity Program.

Benjamin Niaulin, Microsoft MVP

The Microsoft Maturity Program is approved by Microsoft MVP and VP of Product at ShareGate, Benjamin Niaulin. Benjamin has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer since 2008 and is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP.

Reduce security risks with Shadow IT for M365 FAQ

What topics are covered in this course?

This course is all about reducing shadow IT. In it, we cover:

  • The importance of managing shadow IT
  • The consequences of not managing shadow IT
  • Understanding shadow IT and why it happens
  • How to spot shadow IT in your environment
  • How to avoid shadow IT
  • Processes and policies to mitigate shadow IT
  • The surprising relationship between self-service and shadow IT
  • How automation can help decrease shadow IT

Is this course self-paced or instructor-led?

It’s self-paced. We know you’re busy, so you can work your way through this course in whatever timeframe works best for you. Plus, you’ll have unlimited access! So, if after completing the course, you want to revisit a particular section for a refresher, you’ll always have that option.

What are the prerequisites for the course, and who is the intended audience?

There are no prerequisites for this course! This course was created for anyone who works in the IT department, but especially those who are responsible for managing their organization’s Microsoft 365 environment.

Will the course cover specific Microsoft 365 applications like SharePoint or Teams?

Yes! The course covers how granting end users more control over managing Teams teams and SharePoint sites can help lower the chances of shadow IT risk.

This is due to the increased freedom and independence it provides to many employees, allowing them to be productive without needing the aid of any unapproved software or third-party applications—all that while keeping security intact!

What is shadow IT in the context of Microsoft 365?

Good question! In the Microsoft 365 world, shadow IT refers to using unauthorized software such as Google Drive or Slack instead of OneDrive or Teams.

A Microsoft 365 environment is set up to facilitate centralized management and file sharing across a corporate network; using unauthorized services wastes resources and promotes risk.

How does Microsoft 365 help in managing and reducing shadow IT?

With Microsoft 365, you can manage and reduce shadow IT risks using various tools and services that address collaboration needs, as this reduces the need for unauthorized apps and services. Additionally, M365 has built-in security features like data loss prevention data backups, threat protection, and identity management that can further help mitigate these risks.

Microsoft Defender can also help you identify shadow IT, allowing IT admins to procure or block unauthorized apps.

However, managing shadow IT manually can be a time-consuming task. Luckily, there are solutions available that can improve visibility, empower end-users with autonomy and responsibilities, and automate specific management tasks to streamline the process.

What role does IT governance play in reducing shadow IT in Microsoft 365?

IT governance helps establish clear guidelines, policies, and processes for technology usage, helping employees understand what tools are approved and how to use them, reducing the need for unsanctioned apps or services.

And if you need to brush up on your governance know-how, we have a course for that too!

How can organizations educate employees about shadow IT in Microsoft 365?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Consider various methods to educate employees on the risks of using unauthorized tools. Try training sessions, workshops, or engaging content sharing real-life examples. Additionally, organizations can provide resources such as knowledge bases and FAQs.

If you need a headstart, check out this article on how to drive Microsoft 365 end-user adoption in hybrid workplaces

How should organizations monitor and continuously their efforts to reduce shadow IT risks in Microsoft 365

Organizations should establish policies prioritizing reporting and visibility to maintain a secure and compliant tech environment. Regular monitoring for data leakage and analysis of software usage can help detect unauthorized tools and identify areas for improvement.

Just as effectively—consider requesting feedback from those utilizing cloud environments, as this is a practical way to gather insights into the first-hand problems end users face.

Plus, establishing a line of communication between the IT team and workers can only encourage employees to seek IT assistance in the future instead of seeking new tools and software independently.

Assess your Microsoft 365 maturity for free

ShareGate’s Microsoft 365 maturity assessment tool is a free, online tool consisting of a series of questions to help you identify areas of improvement in how your Microsoft 365 environment is being managed.