Enabling Known Programs Enhances Your Cyber Security


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Enabling Known Programs

Enabling Known Programs, or Application Control, is a cyber attack prevention strategy used to minimise the risk of malicious code running on your business network.

Enabling Known Programs, referred to as Application Control or Application Whitelisting, is a recommended Australia Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Essential 8 strategy used to prevent cyber attacks. The process ensures that only approved applications can run on a computer or in a trusted location or network. The goal of controlling is to prevent any malicious code (malware) from entering the business network or individual computers.

Application control is considered one of the most effective mitigation strategies in ensuring the security of systems by the ACSC. Our Cyber Security Management System (CSMS) includes application control to ensure your organisation is protected.

What is Enabling Known Programs?

Enabling Known Programs is a core strategy used by businesses to prevent cyber attacks; with the overall goal to completely prevent any malicious code from accessing and running automatically on a computer or network. Malware can enter a system through a variety of applications, including executables, software libraries, scripts and installers.

This process of controlling programs involves generating an index (or whitelist) of approved applications which are allowed to run in trusted locations on a computer network. This means, any application not on this list cannot run, and thus, cannot install malware.

Many organisations implement blacklisting, which is the process of preventing certain known programs from running. Whilst important, this process is not as thorough as controlling via whitelisting as it will only stop known malware and malicious applications. Controlling takes security measures to the next level; however, it can be much harder to establish than a blacklist.

A key barrier to establishing a control for applications is it can be incredibly time-consuming in identifying all the trusted applications you wish your computer to run.

Our CSMS includes a custom-built application control tool, which has been designed to allow rapid identification of acceptable codes and files to run on computers and networks.

Benefits of Enabling Known Programs

The ACSC identifies application control (or enabling known programs) as one of four mitigation strategies to prevent malware delivery and execution. The benefits of implementing an application control strategy are vast and can range from not having to ‘re-do’ work to preventing bankruptcy and business closure. Here we have identified five key reasons for managing and enabling  known programs.

Five reasons to have an Enable Known Programs strategy

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The risk of cyber attacks is increasing for Australian businesses. Utilising applications to run malware is a common strategy used by hackers to access business systems. Controlling applications ensures that no untrusted application can be downloaded, thus reducing the overall risk of malicious code and subsequently, a cyber attack.

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Malware can be incredibly infectious. Once entering/accessing one computer on a network, it can infect all other computers on the same network via implanting itself into files, programs or data. This can cause the shutdown of entire companies. As enabling known programs only reduces the risk of malware reaching one computer, it reduces the overall risk to the network.

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Zero-day attacks’ are malware attacks which seek vulnerability in applications and deploy before a patch has been created. One of the core issues with blacklisting is it only manages known threats – meaning that zero-day malware can access systems via application vulnerabilities that have not yet been detected. As controlling is an approval process, it will not allow a zero-day malware access a system.

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Occasionally, errors come from employees who unintentionally click on a dangerous email, malicious pop-up or download a new program. Enabling known programs via program control ensure that computers and networks are protected even when accidents happen.

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Smart implementation of controlling management can reduce the overall strain and cost to company IT support. On average, it takes 191 days to detect and contain a data breach.(1) Controlling reduces the chance of any breach, meaning IT can focus energy and efforts on supporting businesses to run effectively; rather than spending precious time fixing cyber attacks.

Implementing a strategy to Enable Known Programs

One of the most common criticisms of application control to enable known programs is the onerous task of establishing and managing the process. However, critics still agree the time and energy is worth it. The good news is our CSMS removes the tedious setup and management of controlling; meaning you get all the benefits of an application control strategy without the hassle.

Once your control is established, it automatically accesses every application that enters the system. It does this by comparing the signature of the application that is trying to download, with the signatures that are stored in the control database tool. The control tool will read the entire contents of the application to ensure it is safe and that it is downloading the correct files.

This is all done automatically. If an application or program is not approved on the control, then it cannot be downloaded run until it is added by an administrator.

Our CSMS enables users to easily manage the controlling process to ensure maximum security at minimum fuss.

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