Application Whitelisting: How It Works and Why Netop Built it into Remote Access Software
The purpose of application whitelisting software is to keep computer systems safe from malware, ransomware, adware and other unwanted or dangerous software. Whitelisting software determines which type of software can run on a particular system. Programs that have not been specifically whitelisted get denied access.
Application whitelisting software provides a higher level of security than relying on a blacklist of known malware. It prevents new threats from taking hold in an enterprise software environment, especially among a large number of networked devices.
Remote access software is another important tool for IT teams. With remote access software a single technician, or a small group of technicians, can efficiently support large numbers of distributed computers and devices from a central location.
Just as IT teams want to protect their computers from unwanted applications, they must also protect against unwanted or improper remote access to their computers. With Netop Remote Control’s application whitelisting feature, IT administrators limit the applications a user has access to during a remote session. By restricting access to only those applications a user needs, instances of user error, misuse or the impact of stolen credentials is minimized.
Application Whitelisting in an Enterprise Environment
Remote access software is ubiquitous in modern computing, with remote desktop protocol (RDP) and virtual network computing (VNC) built directly into our operating systems. While not as prevalent, surveys show one-quarter of all enterprises are using some form of an application control system, including software whitelisting, and another 50% are seriously considering adopting it.
Application whitelisting is particularly important in enterprise environments with large numbers of POS devices, ATMs, medical devices or production machines. These devices play such a critical role in daily operations that a successful attack can have disastrous effects on an organization.
Why Use Application Whitelisting
Whitelisting software allows an IT security team to block even "zero-day" attacks, which exploit previously undiscovered or unknown security flaws in software operating on the system. A blacklist relying on known malware, similar to common anti-virus programs, usually cannot stop these attacks. Because a whitelist much more heavily regulates the types of programs that can run on a particular system or network, even these new malicious programs can be disarmed.
Within remote access software, application whitelisting is an especially helpful feature when working with vendors. Most companies have huge vendor ecosystems, and remote IT service is needed from third-parties for printers, security systems, payroll software, even HVAC systems that are on the company's network. When third-party vendors need access, they don’t need to use an entire network, or even control an entire device. Often they only need access to a single application. Using application whitelisting to limit vendor access can greatly reduce risk.
Benefits of Whitelisting Software
Of course, application whitelisting in your remote access software has benefits beyond working with vendors. Software whitelisting offers a range of benefits for those users with some privileges in an overall enterprise system. Application whitelisting can be particularly useful for controllers, servers or kiosks remotely accessed by different types of users.
A bookkeeper, store manager, and help desk technician may all need to access a certain device, but they probably don’t need to use the same applications. If a vendor or third-party contractor also needs to access the device even more restrictions should be put in place. With a separate whitelist controlling each user’s level of access, problems are avoided.
Application whitelisting software can even work for programmers and developers. Because these systems create new executable code, many people think that a whitelist system cannot be applied to systems used in development environments. However, by using whitelisting software to allow for all executable code created by a programmer or developer, whitelisting can provide enhanced security against malware, Trojans, worms and other attacks while also permitting developers to engage in their work unhindered.
Some forms of application whitelisting, like UAC whitelists, are already built into modern operating systems; enterprise solutions provide a more robust option that can help support people's important work while protecting everyone's security.
Promoting Security & Efficiency
You know that a highly secure, Zero Trust environment can help save your company millions of dollars if a serious malware or ransomware attack is stopped before it can even start. One ransomware attack in Baltimore alone will cost the city up to $18 million. Most recent high-profile ransomware attacks involved users being able to install malicious executables on their work systems because a robust whitelisting system was not in place. The costs of insufficient security are obvious, especially in today's environment.
At the same time, some avoid application whitelisting technology because they fear the software will block useful activity at the company and interfere with business. Older whitelisting software may have blocked non-malicious activity and slowed down operations. Modern whitelisting technologies allow you to manage software deployments, updates and even development without burdening end-users or their machines.
Application whitelisting can now make things run more efficiently because administrators are controlling what users, roles, and privileged users can access at the most granular level possible. They can block the installation of an application, or they can block remote access to everybody except for those who need to access specific applications.
It's an efficiency dream for a lot of IT teams - they know they can avoid malicious intrusions because the controls are so locked down, but everyone can move more quickly than ever to complete their tasks.
Application Whitelisting and Remote Control
Software whitelisting can be particularly critical for enterprises with a large number of remotely managed terminals and endpoints. Because these systems can be most efficiently managed remotely, avoiding costly downtime, remote access software is important to ensure ATMs, cash registers, POS devices and other critical customer systems remain functioning at their best around the clock.
However, some types of remote access pose a clear threat to a system. Certain kinds of malware rely on users to allow remote connections that normally should get rejected, often through impersonation of legitimate IT security personnel. This is why application whitelisting software is particularly critical when using a remote control software solution.
Common tools like TeamViewer, LogMeIn, VNC and Remote Desktop Connection Manager are targets for hackers. If one device on the network is compromised, it can be used as a beachhead to attack other devices on the network with Trojans, worms and other types of malware. As a result, many enterprises are looking for a remote desktop connection manager alternative that provides a higher level of security and customization.
By combining software whitelisting with remote access software that includes application whitelisting as a feature, IT teams have a suite of tools that provide the security they need. Unwanted software is prevented from being installed and remote users are only provided the applications they need to get the job done.
Netop Remote Control Prioritizes Security
Netop Remote Control provides an unparalleled level of remote access security for enterprise systems. The application whitelisting feature is built into the software so you can manage which programs end up being controlled remotely, ensuring no one operating your systems remotely can access areas you don't want to be touched.
In addition, Netop Remote Control provides native multifactor authentication and integration with Active Directory, AD Federation Services, Azure AD, LDAP, or RADIUS-based services. These integrations help companies keep their processes fast, simple, and highly effective while maintaining the strongest levels of security.
If you want to design your enterprise remote access solution to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity along with the highest levels of security, consider software whitelisting in combination with Netop Remote Control. With our market-leading, ironclad security features and advanced application whitelisting features, you can ensure the right person has the right permissions at the right time to keep your most mission-critical systems in top shape. Switch to Netop Remote Control today for an advanced application whitelisting system.
Sam Heiney is the Product Manager for Netop Remote Control.