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What is Whitelisting?
10/18/2023 - Brian O'Neill

Protecting any network against malicious internet traffic requires the implementation of shrewd network security policies. Whitelisting is one such policy which aims to protect networks from external threats by selectively limiting the internet resources that internal users on a network can access.

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Whitelisting is, at its core, a fundamentally opposite approach to blacklisting. While blacklist policies aim to block specific programs, websites, IPs, etc. by referencing established lists/databases of known threats (such as phishing scam emails, botnet IPs, etc.), whitelisting limits traffic to a group of decidedly secure programs, emails, websites, IPs, & more, blocking all other traffic instead.

While blacklisting succeeds at preventing known threat entities from entering a network, it’s ultimately an inadequate solution on its own in today’s rapidly growing threat landscape. Completely new & unique threats are developed every day, and these new threats realistically cannot be diagnosed, tagged, and stored quickly enough to keep network blacklists adequately up to date. As a result, relying on blacklists can leave networks vulnerable to zero-day threats, and it can make targeted network attacks easier for cybercriminals to carry out. In limiting network trust to a specific group of internet resources, whitelisting succeeds where blacklisting fails; zero-day threats are inherently treated the same as established threats because whitelist policies fundamentally block them both.

Though whitelisting is widely considered the more secure approach to network security, however, it’s not without its own challenges. In much the same way that cybersecurity threats rapidly proliferate in the present day, legitimate enterprise applications and internet resources are also developed and released very frequently, and this leaves network/security administrators with the difficult task of constantly evaluating which resources should be added to or excluded from their whitelist. Whitelist policies that are too stringent can limit user productivity by blocking access to important resources, while whitelist policies that are too lax can inadvertently create vulnerabilities by allowing users to access resources which are deceptive or untrustworthy in some way.

Whitelisting with Cloudmersive Virus Scanning Proxies

Cloudmersive Virus Scanning forward & reverse proxies can be configured to whitelist external applications, programs, IPs, email addresses, and other such internet resources. In addition, advanced features of the underlying Cloudmersive Virus Scan API can be configured to categorically block a variety of threatening file types – such as executables, invalid files, password-protected files, archives, and more – and whitelist acceptable file types by extension. When file types are whitelisted by extension, each scanned file will undergo an in-depth content verification check against the expected extension, receiving a “CleanResult: False” response if they fail to match. This allows for a unique degree of control over content entering and leaving a network.

For more information on the Cloudmerive Virus Scan API, please do not hesitate to reach out to a member of our sales team.

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