Unapproved applications and unauthorised software can pose extreme risks to your business’s cybersecurity. “Application Control,” also known as application whitelisting, is a security approach designed to protect against malicious code (also known as malware) executing on systems. It’s one of the most important pillars of the “The Essential Eight”; a series of steps introduced by the Australian Signals Directorate to tackle the cyber security challenges being faced by organisations in this country such as hacks, leaks, breaches and malware.
The What and Why of Application Control
- What is Application Whitelisting?: Application whitelisting is a security practice that allows only specified applications to run on a system while blocking all others. It flips the traditional blacklisting approach, which aims to identify and block malicious software, by permitting only pre-approved applications.
- Why is it Crucial?: The conventional cybersecurity approach primarily relies on identifying and blocking known threats. However, this reactive strategy can’t keep up with the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. Application Control takes a proactive stance. It allows organisations to define a list of approved applications, ensuring that only trusted software is allowed to execute.
How Does Application Control Work?
- Defining the Whitelist: Organisations create a whitelist of approved applications and digital signatures. This can be a meticulous process, but it’s crucial for comprehensive protection.
- Implementation: Once the whitelist is established, it’s implemented across the organisation’s network. Any attempt to run a non-whitelisted application is denied, making it incredibly challenging for malware to gain a foothold.
- Security and Compliance: Application control not only bolsters security but also supports compliance efforts. It provides a clear view of software usage and prevents unauthorised software from running.
Benefits of Application Control
1. Proactive Protection: By focusing on pre-approved applications, application control stops threats before they even start, greatly reducing the attack surface.
2. Resistance to Zero-Day Attacks: These are attacks by cybercriminals who target vulnerabilities unknown to the software developer, giving them ‘zero days’ to fix the issue. But with application controls in place, only known and trusted software is allowed, so even zero-day vulnerabilities are ineffective.
3. Reduced Maintenance: Unlike traditional antivirus solutions, which require frequent updates to combat new threats, application control doesn’t rely on signature updates.
4. Identify threats: in addition to preventing the execution of unapproved applications, application control can also identify attempts by cybercriminals to execute malicious code. Generating event logs for allowed and blocked executions, could provide information about the threat such as the name of the file, the date/time stamp and the username.
5. Enhanced Network Performance: With fewer unverified applications running, network performance and resource utilisation can improve.
While no single strategy can guarantee protection against all cyber threats, implementing the Essential Eight, with a focus on Application Control as the first step, can significantly enhance your cybersecurity. The ASD emphasises the following: ‘’It is important that application control does not replace antivirus and other security software already in place on systems. Using multiple security solutions together can contribute to an effective defence-in-depth approach to prevent the compromise of systems.”
Cloud Connect’s security solutions are designed to ensure that your business remains protected, on-track, and in line with ASD strategies.
Contact us today on (08) 9481 4988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help to stop malicious software from compromising your systems, with our expert Application Control strategies.