Application Whitelisting

 Application whitelisting Software | ManageEngine Application Control Plus.

In 2018 alone,  16,517 application-related security issues were reported—the most ever in a single year. With this number rising rapidly, if you're depending on your antivirus software to save you, it's very unlikely that your enterprise will withstand the next major exploit. An application whitelisting software is a must to achieve a well-rounded and secure application environment.

What is application whitelisting?

Application whitelisting is the process of creating a list of trusted applications and allowing only those apps to run on managed devices. The concept of allowing only what you trust cannot be taken lightly, considering applications tend to be the route through which cyberattacks occur, leading to either major financial losses or massive data leakage.  

Preventing threats with application whitelisting.

Ongoing technological advancement has led users to depend on applications for even the smallest tasks, aided by big and small vendors alike creating new applications by the minute. Due to the increase in demand and lack of time, vendors often rely on open source code to build their applications. Attackers have started to leverage this trend by inserting their own backdoors into open source code so they can easily launch malware or steal data.

Enterprises must take caution to ensure that applications allowed into their network can't be exploited in an attack. By creating application whitelists, you can exercise total control. ManageEngine Application Control Plus, a comprehensive application whitelisting solution, simplifies the whitelisting process into just a handful of steps.

Why is application whitelisting important?

The scope of application whitelisting doesn't just end with malware protection. Creating application whitelists also streamlines inventory management. Enterprises usually grant all users access to most applications, even if they're irrelevant to a user's role. In such cases, users end up having several unused applications running on their devices. Not only do these applications consume storage space, but you waste time managing the licenses and patches associated with these unnecessary apps.

Application whitelisting solves all these issues in that it allows users to use only specific applications based on their role and job requirements.

Application whitelisting best practices.

  1. The process of application whitelisting begins long before the actual whitelist construction. Enterprises opting for this approach of application control should thoroughly observe and understand the application needs of every working individual.
  2. Associating the same application whitelist with groups containing users having similar requirements can reduce the volume of policies created.
  3. Application whitelists that aren't properly defined often do more harm than good. It is recommended to deploy tentative whitelists in an audit only mode, where all applications excluding the blacklisted ones will be allowed to run. This mode should be enabled with log collection that occurs every time a non-whitelisted application is used.
  4. After auditing these logs for a suitable period, essential applications that were previously omitted from the application whitelist can be included in it.
  5. For optimum safety, after finalizing the contents of the whitelist, the deployed policies can be modified to work in a strict mode, where only whitelisted applications will be allowed to run.

How to whitelist applications using Application Control Plus?

Traditional application whitelisting comes with the hassle of list management, which is why enterprises usually shy away from it and opt for antivirus solutions to prevent malware intrusions through applications. Application Control Plus breaks all such norms with its self-updating Application whitelisting feature. Unlike your typical antivirus software, our application whitelisting takes on a proactive approach when it comes to dealing with these vulnerabilities, giving you the best chance of withstanding an attack.

Here’s how Application Control Plus helps you create an application whitelist:

    • Application discovery

      The first step in any application control process is discovering which applications are running in the network. Application Control Plus’ agents scan every endpoint and provide a list of the applications running on them, along with details of all their executables.

    • Application grouping

      Application Control Plus' application whitelisting software builds and updates the whitelist automatically based on the discovered applications’ compliance with your selected policies. The following policies can be configured:

      • Trusted vendors

        Trusting software vendors without valid certificates can cause backdoor attacks if those vendors are using open source code. Hence, only authorized vendors of the running software will be displayed to you. From this, only applications that belong to the vendors you choose will be added to the whitelist.

        Application Whitelisting - Vendor rule | ManageEngine Application Control Plus

      • Product name

        If you want to whitelist certain products from the same vendor, this type of policy can be opted for instead of the trusted vendor rule.

        Application Whitelisting -  Product Name rule - ManageEngine Application Control Plus

      • Verified executables

        Applications are made of multiple executable files, with vendors assigning a digital certificate to each executable to vouch for its authenticity. Application Control Plus displays these verified executable files to you, from which you can select the EXE files to be whitelisted. This policy is critical when it comes to maintaining a secure network, as a file will not be allowed to execute if its digital certificate has been tampered with. Even EXEs added to applications in the form of updates will not be allowed to run if they aren't whitelisted.

        Application Whitelisting - Verified Executable Rule  | ManageEngine Application Control Plus

      • File hash

        This is the most secure policy, as it's based on the hash value of the executable file. All executable files of the running processes, including those that don't have a valid digital certificate, will be displayed to you. You can choose all the files that you wish to whitelist; after that, even the smallest change to the file, such as a revision of the file's version, will change its hash value, meaning the file will be removed instantly from the application whitelist. This policy is perfect if you want to run only extremely specific executables.

        Application Whitelisting - File Hash Rule  | ManageEngine Application Control Plus

      • Folder Path

        This policy makes application whitelisting very simple for you. You can put all the applications that you trust into a folder to whitelist those apps in one go.

        Application Whitelisting - Folder Path rule  | ManageEngine Application Control Plus

    The application whitelist will be created automatically according to the policies chosen, and will be updated whenever new applications are discovered.

  • Associating applications

    Users with the same role generally require similar applications. You can assign applications to individual users based on their requirements, or create custom groups of users and associate those groups with application whitelists specifically built to satisfy their needs using relevant policies. Application Control Plus' application whitelisting feature allows you to associate multiple application whitelists with the same custom group, and vice versa. Learn more

Packed with other cutting-edge and essential features like Application Blacklisting and Endpoint privilege management, our endpoint application whitelisting software takes a comprehensive approach to application control with options for easy greylist resolution and privilege elevation. Try Application Control Plus free for 30 days and see all the features for yourself!