What are the Best Practices
for Application Whitelisting?

Application Whitelisting best practices include scanning all endpoints, storage and backups, properly categorizing applications and process libraries as critical and non-critical, setting up access policies and admin tools, and installing the initial global whitelist software on the network.

Application Whitelisting Best Practices

Implementing (AWL) Application Whitelisting Best Practices requires incorporation of Zero-Trust Access Policies and Rules similar to those IT admins use with Application Control security software. As with App Control, cybersecurity professionals need to integrate the whitelisting security software into their current software systems including any blacklist antivirus, firewalls, endpoint, and network administration security policies. Since Application Whitelisting technology scans programs at the file level in addition to verifying application digital signatures, admins will also integrate whitelisting software with their existing driver and security patch management systems.

AWL Step by Step

Application Whitelisting (AWL) is a digital security technology which only allows trusted files and scripts of a known, good application to run on a system or device. Threat actors rely on phishing emails, zero-day attacks, software or system vulnerabilities, and other attack vectors to surreptitiously download and execute their malicious code, create back doors, spread viruses, worms and ransomware. AWL prevents cyber-attackers from running their malicious code on your system.

How to implement Application Whitelisting:

Run a comprehensive scan of all endpoints, servers, and backups to properly identify and categorize good, known programs and processes. This step in setting up AWL is also known as benchmarking.
Prepare the initial application whitelist of trusted, known programs, scripts, and process libraries. These are the only entities whitelisted and approved to run on any endpoint device or server on the network.

These rules will allow traffic on the network based on trusted application signatures, files, scripts, user authentication, privileges, and security profile.

The whitelisting software will strictly enforce the list of known legitimate programs and access policies. Any unknown or new app will be blocked from running protecting the device, operating system and network from cyber-threats.

Critical Applications vs Non-Essential Application - Whitelisting supports a Zero-Trust Access Model whereby administrators restrict critical applications and resources to known users, and closely monitor network traffic to prevent unauthorized access, lateral movement, and exploitation of vulnerabilities by threat actors on the network.

In addition to the global whitelist, on-premise applications, custom apps, general business applications, and SaaS apps require scanning and whitelisting for secure business operations. Cybersecurity administrators carefully vet and whitelist these programs as part of the AWL implementation process.

In order for the whitelisting software to scan all traffic, files and scripts for threats, it needs access through the network firewall and internal DNS server.

Ensure only administrators and known users have cloud access including SaaS access. For any cloud applications running SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), ensure that only your IT administrators and trusted, known users have access privileges to these applications and any underlying data sources.

Reduce potential attack surface by only allowing IT administrators with a need to access whitelist applications. Create custom applications and separate rules for apps that run on non-standard ports to enforce more granular access control and avoid opening additional ports on the network.

These profiles, filters and rules help prevent malicious actors from sneaking in by piggybacking off legitimate programs and web-based applications, or using file-less in-memory infections, or malicious phishing email scripts to launch a cyber-attack.

Application Whitelisting will prevent execution of malicious code, scripts or macros that can grant an attacker elevated administrative privileges, unauthorized remote access control, or to gain a foothold in order to establish a backdoor for persistent unauthorized access.

AWL Technology monitors an operating system in real-time to uniquely identify and screen each file regardless of what software publisher, parent process, or software package it belongs to. This deeper level of cyber-protection, also referred to as entity integrity monitoring is combined with real time whitelist updates, device authentication, PowerShell script use restrictions, and secure RDP monitoring.

Our award-winning Application Whitelisting Software fully integrates advanced application control, endpoint security, ransomware protection, blacklist antivirus, secure RDP, automated driver updates, and security patch management.

Application Whitelisting Provides Greater Security

AWL provides greater cyber-protection. AWL does not trust a script or file simply because it is part of a known or trusted legitimate application. Application Control, on the other hand may allow that same file or script to run simply because it is attributed to a known or trusted legitimate program. While whitelisting also places full control over which applications are permitted to run on a user's device, server or network, it does so by detailed malware screening of each and every file, script, macro, process, and file extension, not just every program.

Through the use of discrete file screening in addition to application screening, AWL prevents cyber-attackers from hiding or disguising malicious code on a system or device whether it is delivered by email, download or fileless in memory such as with a Zero-Day cyber-attack.

In addition to verifying an application publisher's signed signature and cryptographic hash, whitelisting provides a global whitelist of known, trusted applications and screens for specific file attributes such as file name, file path and file size. Modern whitelisting solutions go further than examining basic file attributes. Advanced AWL security solutions also scan parent and child process attributes to ensure that no malicious processes can execute on a device.

As a multi-layered security approach advanced Application Whitelisting works very well with Application Control solutions, and other types of cybersecurity measures such as Blacklist Antivirus, Zero-Trust Architecture with micro-perimeter protection, EDR / XDR, immutable back-ups, and secure RDP to prevent ransomware attacks.

Global App Whitelist

An automated global white list of trusted applications that each endpoint can check and update in real-time.

Local App Whitelist

Customized applications can be added locally with a simple click to the automated global whitelist.

App Signature Whitelist

Good signed applications are added via the publisher’s signature eliminating the need for whitelisting hashes for past and future applications.

Malware Script & Macros Whitelist

A trusted scripts and macros whitelist prevents unauthorized execution via valid scripting apps and programs such as Microsoft Office.

Device Authentication Whitelist

For Multi-Factor Authentication, a device uniqueness algorithm authenticates a user's device rather than a mobile phone number as a second factor.

RDP Port Access Whitelist

Secure RDP Whitelist authenticates entering devices to close any security hole preventing ransomware breaches through RDP ports.

What You Need to Know About Application Whitelisting

The goal of whitelisting is to protect computers and networks from potentially harmful applications by not allowing cyber-criminals to place their own executables on the system or a device. This includes hackers disguising and replacing known good binary executable files with compromised ones to launch a cyber-attack. Application whitelisting also prevents zero-day attacks by not allowing the execution of any non-whitelisted or un-trusted applications, scripts, installers or macros. Having the right application whitelisting tools in place is the key to malware prevention especially when running brand new, unknown or non-trusted applications.

PC Matic Application Whitelisting is one of the most comprehensive and robust as compared to other well-known whitelisting and app control solutions such as Airlock Digital, AppLocker, McAfee Application Control, Digital Guardian, ManageEngine Application Control Plus, PowerBroker, PolicyPak, Defendpoint, Faronics Anti-Executable, Gatekeeper, Centrify, and others.

Application Whitelisting Best Practices provides granular security at the file, script, and process level. In comparison, Application Control identifies or flags entire application packages by focusing on whether a program is known and trusted, as opposed to focusing on each and every file including scripts, macros, processes, and file extensions.

Screening with Application Control does not take place at the granular file and entity level as it does with AWL. So, while Application Control will flag and block "unrecognized software changes", Application Whitelisting will flag and block any file, script, file extension or macro changes.

Application Control can allow files from a trusted application to run. It checks to see if anything has changed since the program was initially installed. While this ensures some level of system security, it does not prevent many sophisticated types of modern malware from penetrating a system.

Modern malware including ransomware is written to avoid application-level screening. Files, scripts, macros, and even security updates can be disguised as belonging to an application package. Malicious code can piggyback on seemingly legitimate software program updates and downloads. A better solution to combat these kinds of modern cyber-threats is Application Whitelisting (AWL) which screens all device and system files even those from trusted applications.

Our team of cybersecurity professionals will assess your current security posture and help you to implement a complete security solution for a fully protected, secure server and network. Our zero-trust solutions can be utilized across hybrid environments including cloud-hosted virtual machines to protect servers, applications and databases.

Explore PC Matic Pro Cybersecurity for complete IT System Protection with Whitelisting Security Solutions. Our whitelist technology provides comprehensive security and hardening against advanced malware, ransomware, ATPs, fileless infections, polymorphous viruses, and sophisticated cybercriminals attempting to steal and ransom your critical data. Protect your sensitive data and systems against sophisticated cybercriminal attempting to steal and ransom your data. Explore PC Matic Pro Security Solutions.

With whitelisting, if any file, script, macro, driver, or security patch update is unknown, modified or not already on the approved whitelist, that file or script is prevented from executing by default. It doesn't matter if the application itself is known and trusted.

This is where Application Whitelisting for cybersecurity effectiveness really shines vs Blacklisting Antivirus, EDR, EPP, or Zero-Trust measures alone. The granularity of file, script and macro inspection as well as default deny differentiates AWL from typical Blacklist Antivirus and App Control making Application Whitelisting superior in providing protection against malware and ransomware attacks.

Application Whitelisting for Server Security comprises the comprehensive IT safeguards and application control tools used to protect data and IT assets on an organization's servers. Unified Network Performance Monitoring provides a unified security view of your IT environment including hybrid and cloud networks to detect threats and performance issues in real time across all your applications.

IT Networks and Servers are the most frequent targets of cyber-criminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities in a system's security to disrupt operations, steal data, or to ransom critical company data. Do not become a victim of a ransomware attack. Harden your network or cloud servers with the best automated application whitelisting tools available in the US.