What is Whitelist?

A list of IP addresses, email addresses, and applications that have been accepted by the administrator. Whitelisted items gain access to the system, allowing them to be installed, changed, and communicated with through the private network.

A whitelist’s purpose is to safeguard a private network and its devices from external threats. Whitelisting enables trustworthy entities to have access, service, mobility, or access to entered services. These entities are usually network-based programs and websites that are created and trusted to work. Anything not on this list will be disallowed. This can, however, be rather difficult and frustrating to end-users, requiring careful execution and adequate management, and is no failsafe obstacle to attacks. Since whitelist is the direct opposite of blacklist, if you have established a whitelist, you have blacklisted everything in the area you are working on. At first blush, security seems to be an ice cream: you don’t need to worry about a new malicious code that threatens your infrastructure because only what you know about your computers is safe. Whitelisting only allows certain applications to operate on a protected computer.

Application whitelisting is a fantastic advocate against two different risks to security; malware and Shadow IT. Malware are harmful payloads like key loggers and ransomware cannot be executed if they’re not on the whitelist. Likewise whitelisting is also a tool to counter "Shadow IT." End users or particular departments can try to install unsecure or not correctly licensed apps on their systems. If these apps are not whitelisted, the rogue departments are halted, and IT is alerted. Whitelisting is not a one-size-fits-all tool and is not an appropriate answer for every machine in your jurisdiction.

There are three scenarios where the whitelisting is applicable: 1) Centrally managed hosts with other PCs, 2) In a risky environment on computers, 3) Laptops or kiosks with no administrative privileges. The truth is that whitelists are not a safety panacea and must fit within your organization’s broader security picture. It would be best if you still had anti-malware, endpoint protection, and perimeter security technologies to defend PCs that don’t suit whitelisting or catch what you miss. Most commercial operating systems have whitelisting features in place, including Windows 10 and macOS.

The type of app stores used to install software on iOS and Android devices can be seen as the whitelisting application; they ostensibly only allow applications that are confirmed to be secure. Most mobile software for management enables more granular controls.

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