Brown’s Bytes – Slack Security?

Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes

21st June 2019

The big news today is that Slack became the latest tech start-up to make it all the way to joining the stock market.

Kudos to them – it’s a great success and a reflection of how they’ve built a service that is popular with users. In fact, they’ve steadily grown their user base to over 10 million users daily.

Now for the ‘but’…

Regular readers will know the format by now… there has to be a ‘but’ in here!

The first thing to say here is that Slack is ultimately a tool for collaboration. It has come from the developer world, but it is really a cloud collaboration platform for any business; enabling staff to use chat, voice, and video, and also collaborate on files and documents.

The key point here – it’s a business tool.

Its competition is products like Microsoft’s Teams!

Now, back in January, Slack reported on a couple of really interesting nuggets. The first was the aforementioned increase to 10 million daily active users – an increase from 4 million in 2016, so this stuff is becoming increasingly popular.

The second was more fascinating: of those 10 million, guess how many were actually paying for it??? Well, as it’s a business tool, you should probably assume that this is something that virtually everyone would be paying for out of their IT budgets and that the vast majority of users have therefore moved on from a free trial to using it formally…

Nope! Slack said it had 3 million paid users last year.

I could look at this, and therefore say that less than 1 in 3 users are using it “officially” by paying for it. It’s a rough measure, but it makes the point that…

This is shadow IT in action

Users are just getting the job done as efficiently as possible. They use tools that work – Slack is a case of people embracing cloud services and their associated apps because they work better for them.

However, as with all shadow IT, there is a risk that data is now residing outside of IT security’s control, and it gets worse – the free versions of Slack have fewer security options than the paid versions.

Our Cloud Security solutions help you control this. We can give you complete visibility and control over where your data resides on all cloud services – Slack included. And it doesn’t just mean blocking it – it means granular control over what data can be shared where, and from which devices.

Find out more about why it’s important to strike a balance between security and productivity for shadow IT.

Get in touch if you’d like us to help with getting visibility of the Shadow IT that is already happening, and how to sort this mess out.