One of the very best things security measures you can take is application whitelisting–limiting the apps that are allowed to run on your computer.
The Australian Signals Directorate–the Australian counterpart to the NSA–says doing four things cuts security incidents by a whopping 85 percent. You probably do three of the things. The fourth is application whitelisting.
- use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running
- patch applications such as Java, PDF viewers, Flash, web browsers and Microsoft Office
- patch operating system vulnerabilities
- restrict administrative privileges to operating systems and applications based on user duties.
I have heard about application whitelisting guides before, but have never been able to find one. I’ve tried to work out how to do it myself, but have never come up with something that worked reliably enough to keep using myself, let alone share. So I’m glad to find and share this guide from mechbgon.com.
Application whitelisting severely limits drive-by downloads, which are websites that install software without your knowledge or permission when you visit the page. And in the event that you do get infected with malware or spyware, it can limit the damage in some cases.
It will change how you use the computer. There will be things that don’t work, and you’ll have to tweak them to make them work, and when you install software, you’ll have to remember to add it to your whitelist. It’s a bit of work, but worthwhile if you value security.
I wouldn’t say I recommend going without antivirus software–I agree it’s highly overrated but disagree that it’s worthless–but if you are going to go without antivirus software, implement application whitelisting.