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What Makes Application Whitelisting So Effective


What Makes Application Whitelisting So Effective

Karen Allison
Karen Allison March 25, 2018

Application whitelisting has been considered by many to be the most effective tool in the fight against cyber-attacks and crime. Recent developments in the tech space have highlighted a number of deficiencies in traditional methods of IT security such as blacklisting, all of which continue to increase the importance of pursuing additional means of protecting your computer systems.

In this article, we’re going to outline why application whitelisting has been so revolutionary as well as provide some insight into whether it is sufficient as a standalone system of defence.

The Premise Behind Application Whitelisting

Rather than produce a blacklist like other methods of IT protection software, whitelisting provides a greater level of control by preapproving the applications, programs and software that can be executed in any given virtual environment.

The benefit to this is that this defence cannot be overcome by modifications to code or scripts, permanently denying unwanted access to any IT network. App whitelisting works in direct contrast to traditional anti-virus software by being proactive rather than reactive.

Unique Installations and Deployments

No two instances of an application whitelist will ever be exactly the same. The benefit of this is that any would be attacker is unable to test their latest virus or malware against another system in preparation to attack yours.

Real Time Monitoring and Total Control

Instead of having to download a report at the end of a day, whitelisting software is able to provide system administrators with data in real time, further improving your ability to keep your computer systems safe.

Additional benefits include;

  • Being able to react to threats and malicious activity as soon as they become apparent.
  • Being able to accurately pinpoint exactly where an attack has taken place, which includes details as such as the network users involved and the time of the activity.
  • Being able to monitor the exchange and communication of all files, both in and out of the network.

The control and oversight available to you as a system administrator provides an all in one solution to maintaining your critical IT networks.

Do I Still Need to Use Other Forms of Security Software?

That would depend on your aims as a company or as an individual as well as your risk profile. The best form of defence is a layered form of defence so application whitelisting has the ability to increase the security of any IT system over and above that of any traditional anti-virus software. Most application whitelisting products allow you to operate in one of two modes; always on protection and audit based operation. This flexibility will allow you to fine tune your deployment to your needs.

Approved by the Australian Signals Directorate

The ASD has listed app whitelisting as the most effective form of cyber security since 2010, citing its ability to provide a holistic approach to network security and prevent targeted cyber intrusions.

If you and your organisation are serious about cyber security, whitelisting as part of a layered security system is your best option.

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