Application Whitelisting Only Works Sometimes – CIOs Need to Know the Facts

It’s a battle out there: hackers and organized crime groups vs. your company. Whereas you have to worry about keeping the company successful and lowering costs, all they have to worry about is finding ways to break into your network. Doesn’t seem very fair, does it? There is some good news for CIOs: application whitelisting has arrived.

What is Whitelisting?
The problem with trying to protect your company’s network is that the bad guys are always trying new and innovative things. In order to block them, you have to stay on top of what the latest attach vector is and install defenses against it throughout your network. This can be a real time waster – it’s critical to do, but it contributes nothing to the company’s bottom line.

Whitelisting applications takes a 180-degree different approach to securing your network. Instead of trying to identify and block all of the bad malware variants that are trying to get into your network, whitelisting focuses on identifying all of the applications that SHOULD be allowed to access your network.

This of course means that you need to block everything that is not whitelisted. The theory is that all that malware that shows up will find the door to your network slammed shut on them.

Whitelisting Is Not For Everyone
In some enterprise IT environments, whitelisting is the wrong way to go. In these environments, using application whitelisting can actually drive up operational costs so high that things quickly get out of hand. Ill-suited IT environments are those in which workers need to be constantly installing new and changed applications on the fly in order to complete their tasks.

Where Whitelisting Works Well
That being said, there are IT environments in which application whitelisting works very well. These environments tend to be very static with very few application changes. A great example of this is call centers.

Another example where whitelisting has worked well is in the retail sector where cash register environments are very static and only need to be updated ever six months. Some companies have discovered that they have been able to do away with anti-virus protection (and the associated cost of maintaining it) on those machines.

Final Thoughts
The fight to secure the company’s network from the forces that would do bad things to it is never-ending for CIOs. However, this is not what CIOs should be spending their time on – there is not a bottom line benefit.

Whitelisting of applications provides yet another way to secure the firm’s network by taking a novel approach to security – don’t worry about identifying the bad guys, just worry about identifying the good guys.

Whitelisting won’t work for every environment, but in certain static IT environments it can work wonders. CIOs who can identify the right IT environments in which to use application whitelisting will have found a way to apply IT to enable the rest of the company to grow quicker, move faster, and do more.