Not too long ago, application whitelisting as a form of IT security was looked upon as being far too restrictive a measure for most end users to accept. Fast forward a few years and several high-profile security breaches later and it looks like application whitelisting might be coming back into vogue.
Digital Guardian, a provider of endpoint data security software, this week announced it is acquiring Savant Protection, a provider of application whitelisting software that enables IT organizations to deploy a unique agent for whitelisting the applications that can be used on any particular endpoint.
Most used on fixed endpoints such as point-of-sale (PoS) systems, Digital Guardian CEO Ken Levine says organizations are becoming increasingly open to more prescriptive approaches to enforcing IT security. Responding to that need, Digital Guardian’s acquisition of Savant Protection follows the acquisition of Armor5, a provider of zero-touch software for accessing virtual data and applications without actually putting any data on the endpoint, in 2014. The end goal, says Levine, is to create a common IT security framework around a unified set of agent software for multiple types of endpoints.
It’s unclear just how aggressive organizations of all sizes are going to be about enforcing IT security policies going forward. While awareness of the potential business impact of an IT security breach has never been higher, there’s still a lot tremendous amount of inertia surrounding end-user behavior that needs to be overcome. The good news, says Levine, is that there is now a lot more focus on protecting data rather than simply erecting a set of defenses at the perimeter that IT hopes no one will penetrate.
On the one hand, application whitelisting may strike some as being a little overbearing, but billions of dollars are lost every year because any number of unknown vulnerabilities are being exploited. Application whitelisting, of course, doesn’t eliminate vulnerabilities inside applications. But it sure does go a long way to limiting the attack surface that digital criminals can exploit.