Not all applications installed and accessed from the internet are safe to use, even with anti-virus software. Applications may run on malware codes or bugs that can enter your device or network through an attack vector. Security experts use application whitelisting as a preventive measure.
Application whitelisting is a software preinstalled in the computer or the network which restricts the user(s) from opening or using harmful applications. This software can only operate on a particular set of files, applications, and executable programs assigned to be present on a network or computer. However, whitelisting is not blacklisting and differs to some extent.
Application blacklisting restricts undesirable applications or programs from existing on a computer/network, whereas whitelisting is an inhibitory program. Whitelisting also needs a directory of users who are permitted to access certain applications. The admins need to be updated frequently to avoid any errors that recognise demanded apps as “harmful’.
How to Establish Application whitelisting
As mentioned previously, application whitelisting can be pre-installed in a computer’s operating system or downloaded through third-party vendors. Normally, it is not a complex task as the admin only needs to register specific programs and applications which can be allowed, with their filename and other attributes.
Windows has also introduced their in-house application, Windows AppLocker, which aligns with the whitelisting technology. The administrator has to permit the applications which other users can run, and the AppLocker restricts access to the unregistered applications by labelling them ‘harmful’ or ‘unauthorized’.
As proponents of blacklisting complain that whitelisting is a lengthy process comparatively, one must agree that this system allows users to be protected from unwanted and unsafe applications, potentially creating attack vectors such as ransomware and malware attacks. It’s also evidently more restrictive and restraining compared to application blacklisting as it cannot be bypassed to open any applications unless the administrator has authorized the application in the computer or network.