The 6 Best Practices for Application Whitelisting | #emailsecurity | #phishing | #ransomware | #education | #technology | #infosec

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The security of data revolves around access. Cybercriminals can only alter or steal data when they have access to it. As long as they cannot find their way to it, there is little they can do.

As a network owner or administrator, you need to prioritize access to your system. Application whitelisting helps you to determine the applications that enter your network.

Read along as we discuss the challenges of application whitelisting and the best ways to implement it.

What Is Application Whitelisting?

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The growing number of cyber threats has made it necessary to develop ways to prevent unauthorized applications or files from gaining access to networks and web applications. And one effective method of controlling user access is application whitelisting.

Every file on a local computer is registered in an assessment catalog with its digital signature before allowing it through firewalls. The opposite of application blacklisting that prevents a list of applications from gaining entry into a network, application whitelisting is a cybersecurity measure deployed to process only a set of trusted applications.

The free passage is for the listed files. Any file that is not on the verified list cannot gain access to the system. And that’s because they can compromise the network and cause severe damage.

Application whitelisting offers several benefits that enhance the operations of a network.

What Are the Challenges of Application Whitelisting?

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Application whitelisting makes a good gatekeeper in cybersecurity. Once implemented, rest assured that intruders cannot make it through the gate.

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But despite its efficiency, application whitelisting poses some challenges. Hence, some network administrators have a hard time adopting it. Let us look at some of these challenges.

1. Difficult to Implement

The process of whitelisting is tough to implement due to the dynamics of creating and managing the whitelist.

Applications on the approved list are not always static. Sometimes, they change at runtime. To successfully execute the application whitelist, you must learn the changes in the file formats and implement systems that will manage the changes effectively.

2. Affecting End Users

One of the major concerns of application whitelisting is its impact on end-users, especially the people you work with directly.

The application whitelist is not always exhaustive. You might omit some files on your list because you are oblivious to them. When authorized users try to access your network, they cannot gain entry because the system flags them off as a threat.

The denial of access can affect authorized users negatively and hinder the workflow.

3. Constructing a Trusted Application Database

Building a trusted application database is tasking because the slightest error can affect its operations. Implementing database maintenance on your whitelist can also be challenging. There are two ways to resolve this hurdle.

The first option is to delegate the listing of the items to a dedicated administrator or team. Their responsibility is to identify, verify, and safelist the applications.

The second option is to hand out a verified database of trusted applications to a third party to be maintained. Then, only the administrator has to choose and approve of them.

4. Limitation on the Scope of Solution

Application whitelisting limits the possibility of solutions a team can implement. Any item that is not on the approved list is automatically illegal. This can lead to further frustration and hinder efficiency.

New applications must undergo extensive vetting before deployment. Verifying files regularly makes the whitelisting process tiring and time-consuming.

The 6 Best Practices for Application Whitelisting

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Since application whitelisting proves to be effective in securing networks, it’s important to learn the best practices for implementation.

When you follow the proper procedures, you can navigate the challenges of application whitelisting and create a more robust cybersecurity framework for your system.

Here are some of the best practices of application whitelisting to keep in mind.

1. Categorize the Essential and Non-Essential Business Applications

One of the best practices for application whitelisting is arranging the essential and non-essential business applications and creating an access policy. This helps you to prioritize your applications based on their importance to you.

Categorizing your applications requires you to outline a set of rules that will permit only the users that meet the criteria. That way, your whitelist is more solid.

2. Update the Whitelist Regularly

Your application whitelist becomes outdated when you abandon it. The applications may not be able to function effectively due to certain changes.

Ensure that you update your files regularly for optimal performance. Failure to do so might cause damage to the entire system.

Developers often release updated versions of applications into the market due to possible vulnerabilities spotted in older versions. Upgrading and modernizing the system whitelist keeps you in line with the latest versions.

3. Review Your Corporate Network

Scanning all your network components helps you establish a starting point of what programs you need to accept. It also helps you weed out unnecessary or malicious applications running on your network.

Even if your system is clean, you should scan it thoroughly with external storage drives to detect what applications and procedures are essential for optimal operations.

4. Know Your Software Publisher

Another good practice for application whitelisting is to know the publisher or creator of the software you’re using before installing it on your computer.

There are several unlicensed and poorly constructed software out there used to infect networks and web applications. Verifying the authenticity of your software publisher helps guarantee that you’re not installing any malware onto your computer.

5. Catalog and Permit Access to Certain Admin Tools

Granting different levels of access to your team members is necessary for effective management. To ensure everything works accordingly, you need to set up various access levels on your whitelist.

A standard access protocol streamlines the network access and helps you manage your whitelist more effectively.

6. Integrate Other Cybersecurity Measures

Cybersecurity is so vast that deploying only one security method is insufficient. You need to implement various security techniques to keep your system out of danger.

Do not rely solely on application whitelisting. Add other cybersecurity methods to your radar. Some helpful security practices in this regard include DNS filtering, email security, patch management, antivirus, and more.

Application whitelisting design allows integration. You can combine different security tools to cater to the needs of your network. And if one of them falls short for any reason, the others can cover the gap.

Take Full Control of Your Network Access With Application Whitelisting

Application whitelisting has proven to be effective in preventing attack surprises. As a proactive cybersecurity measure, it helps you create an entry benchmark for your system.

You get to have maximum control of access to your system. If you do not approve an application, its chances of gaining access are very slim. Cybercriminals would have to work around the clock to access your data. Unless they can bypass the application whitelist security at the door, they do not stand a chance to get in.

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