The year 2018 reported 16,517 application-related security issues worldwide. With such an alarming number of instances, if your IT team is still dependent on antivirus software to save business data, there’s a high chance your enterprise may have to withstand a major malware exploit. But by using an application whitelisting solution, companies can achieve a secure and well-rounded application environment in the business. But before we understand what application whitelisting is, let’s quickly run through some common terms associated with it.
As a cybersecurity strategy, whitelisting allows users to only use programs, applications, and websites on computers based on what administrators have explicitly allowed in advance.
Instead of combatting an actual cyber attacker by staying one step ahead and identifying the malicious application, IT can instead compile a list of approved applications that can be pushed on a computer or mobile device for users to access. This way, whatever users can access has been deemed safe by the administrators.
For any organization, whitelisting is an extreme lockdown measure that can prevent many cybersecurity problems, but only if implemented correctly. Whitelisting isn’t a foolproof barrier to attacks and is often inconvenient and frustrating for end-users. Therefore, it is important for IT admins need to carefully implement it and ensure proper ongoing administration for the policy to work efficiently.
Learn More: Mobile Threat Defense (MTD): What Companies Should Know
Blacklist is a slightly more familiar concept because we use this term more frequently in our daily lives. A blacklist consists of a list of dangerous things that should be blocked from mobile devices, making devices more secure and protecting them from unwanted malware. Most anti-malware and antivirus programs are blacklisted because they include known malicious code, making the program automatically take over your computer.
Whitelist, on the other hand, is a simple inversion of a blacklist. Simply put, if you have pushed a whitelist policy, you’ve blacklisted everything except whatever is on your whitelist. From a distant look, this seems to solidify your security measures because you don’t have to worry about any kind of malicious code threatening your infrastructure. This is because whitelisting only permits users to access things they know are safe and secure.
Read More: How to Whitelist or Blacklist apps on Android & iOS
Application whitelisting only allows a certain set of applications to run on a secure mobile device. Inversely, application blacklisting blocks defined applications from being installed on the targeted device. For instance, if a blacklisted application is already running on a managed device, it will be blocked once it is blacklisted. In fact, blacklisting simply removes applications from the device’s home screen.
When you whitelist an application(s), all other applications, except the whitelisted ones, will be explicitly defined and blocked immediately. Additionally, their icons will be removed from the home screen of the user’s managed devices. This way, IT admins can ensure that end-users can only install or use explicitly defined applications.
The app whitelisting process involves creating a list of trusted applications to run on managed devices. Given the fact that applications are often the route through which cyberattacks take place, allowing only what you trust (the process of whitelisting ) cannot be taken lightly because it may lead to either financial losses or data leakages.
However, whitelisting comes with some pretty obvious drawbacks. By whitelisting, you restrict a user’s freedom to use applications and devices the way they want, and people naturally think of work computers as “their” assets because they sit in front of them for at least eight hours every day. Also, building a whitelist needs more groundwork. This is because blacklisting known malware and attack sites can be easily put together by vendors. Every company’s whitelist programs will be unique depending on the industry they serve.
Application whitelisting can defend against two major kinds of security threats, as mentioned here:
Malicious software payloads (malware) such as ransomware or keyloggers will be unable to execute if not whitelisted by the admin.
End users may often try installing insecure or unlicensed programs on their systems. If these applications or programs are not on the whitelist, individuals won’t be able to install them, and IT departments will be immediately informed about it.
With massive technological advancement shaping the corporate world, users depend heavily on applications to carry out even the smallest tasks. At this very minute, big and small vendors alike have put their heads together to build a new application. With such high demand and such a short span of time, vendors may rely on open-source code for creating apps quickly.
Cyber attackers have begun taking advantage of open-source codes to get into a secured network or infrastructure. They have started inserting their backdoors on them to easily steal data or launch malware into a business ecosystem.
This is why enterprises need to be very cautious in ensuring no applications allowed in their network should have any room for a malicious attack. IT admins can exercise control by resorting to whitelisting applications.
The application whitelisting process will largely vary depending on what kind of whitelisting tool a company uses. Some proven best practices that IT admins can adhere to to carry out this process are mentioned here.
The scope of app whitelisting doesn’t just end at protecting your devices against unwanted malware. IT teams can also streamline inventory management by creating application whitelists. Without a whitelist policy, enterprises have granted users access to all applications, even when irrelevant to an employee’s job. This may result in the users misusing applications running on their devices, causing a dip in productivity. Apart from that, unused and irrelevant applications consume more data and storage space, and IT admins simply waste their time managing the patches and licenses associated with these apps.
By whitelisting applications, IT admins can resolve all these issues and ensure that users only have access to specific applications based on their job requirements.
Read More: How to Whitelist Applications on Windows 10 Devices
With Scalefusion Mobile Device Management, IT admins can manage devices remotely. IT admins can also undertake whitelisting or blacklisting applications for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows devices using Scalefusion.
IT teams can simply create and enforce extensive application policies for all managed devices. They can whitelist or blacklist applications and alternatively also lock managed devices into Single App kiosk mode to block access to any other app.
Application whitelisting can help reduce preliminary IT challenges involving blocking non-business apps and ensuring employee productivity with up-to-date business apps on all managed devices.