What is application control?

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In recent years, the number of applications that promise to help people do their jobs more simply have grown to alarming levels. While meeting both personal and business needs, the legitimacy of many of these applications is put to the test, given that in some cases they are used by cybercriminals for illegal purposes. Hence the importance of the company maintaining the balance between increasing productivity and minimizing the threats that can be introduced to corporate security.

That is because applications can breach bandwidth when untrusted, jeopardizing business data, and even hinder employee productivity. However, contrary to what many managers think, the controls offered by traditional firewalls, based only on ports, addresses and protocols, are not enough to ensure the safety of the environment in some cases.

Because many solutions with different purposes use the same protocol or transport port, knowing the application layer is crucial to establishing assertive access policies, avoiding potential connection evasion and false positives. However, for this, organizations need to have application control software that enables them to address the challenges associated with applications in a simple and efficient way. Here is what app controlis and how it can benefit your business.

The application layer

First, it is important to remember that TCP/IP, the main protocol for sending and receiving data on the Internet, is divided into four distinct layers: application, transport, network and interface. This division is a way of ensuring integrity of the data that travels across the network, with each layer performing different tasks. Programs to send and receive information from other systems through the network use the application layer.

In this layer, you can find protocols such as HTTP (internet browsing), FTP (file transfer), SSH (secure remote login) and SMTP (e-mail). Once processed by the application layer, data is sent to the partition below. It is crucial the firewall accessing this layer, since only then can it analyze the application and ensure that activities performed by it are working at an optimal level before sent to the lower layer of transport.

From this understanding of application behavior, and from a network perspective, it can be controlled. Therefore, if there is no update from the firewall vendors on the knowledge base that allows you to evaluate the application, it may change the behavior of the protocol and compromise the enterprise security policy. Hence the importance of the firewall to recognize the behavior of applications, minimizing the chances of exploiting vulnerabilities intentionally generated by application developers.

What is application control?

Application controlis provided by software that prevents applications used by employees from performing actions that could put the corporate network or equipment at risk. It logs the actions performed by the applications and manages the activities performed by them, according to the security policy established. With application control, apps are classified into four groups:

  • Reliable: digital signature applications from trusted vendors;
  • Low restriction: applications that do not have a digital signature from a trusted vendor, thus receiving a low threat rating.
  • High Restriction: Applications that do not have a digital signature, having a high threat rating.
  • Untrusted: Applications without digital signature, that received a very high value of threat classification.

What benefits does it bring to the business?

The overall goal of application controlis to ensure that data travelling across the network, and between applications, remains always protected and secure. The benefits to a company are very apparent, ranging from regulating data traffic between a local network and untrustworthy network through the introduction of application filters, to minimizing business risk and further protecting corporate data in the organization. Below are some advantages associated to application control:

  • Keeps malwares out of the private network, allowing productivity and bandwidth not to be affected;
  • Allows you to block hundreds of applications quickly and easily;
  • Enables the creation of custom rules that can be added to any unsupported protocols;
  • Facilitates the creation of policies based on the time of use of the applications;
  • Issues reports that allow administrators to see which protocols are active on the private network and who is using them.

Do you already use application controlsoftware in your company? What benefits have been generated by it? Interact with our blog and report your experience.

Willian Pandini
willian.pandini@ostec.com.br
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