If security is too complex for blacklists, what's next?

Whitelisting is the new norm, even though it is difficult to manage

In an increasingly complex computing environment with increasingly sophisticated threats, using signatures and addresses to blacklist known threats is no longer adequate, said Toney Jennings, president and CEO of CoreTrace.

“Blacklisting doesn’t stand a chance because, by definition, it is reactive” and can’t be applied until someone compromises a system. And when the target is high-value intellectual property, which advanced persistent threats often set in their sights, one compromise is too many.


Related coverage:

Advanced persistent threats are a new way of life


Not surprisingly, Jennings, whose company sells whitelisting security services, advocates whitelists as the solution. Whitelisting is effective because it prohibits everything that isn’t known to be safe or trusted. But it has been difficult to manage, especially in large enterprises where thousands of users swamp the help desk with change requests, which can be a bigger problem than most malware.

Jennings said whitelisting has matured and become easier to manage — not as easy as blacklisting and signature-based systems but easy enough to warrant a second look.

“It’s not a perfect system,” he said. And if you operate in a user-friendly environment in which users expect complete control over their computer, it might not be right for you. But at more secure government enterprises, it could be a valuable supplement to help catch the 30 percent of threats that blacklists let through.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

Featured

  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com)

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (Shutterstock.com)

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected