NIST Releases Anti-Malware Guidance

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By George R. Lynch

Nov. 17 — The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released guidance on using automated application whitelisting to prevent malware and other unauthorized software from accessing computer systems.

The guide provides basic information on application whitelisting technology and provides step-by-step instructions for organizations.

The purpose of automatic application whitelisting programs is to simplify screening and approving software updates across organizations, replacing slower manual methods. NIST said that unlike antivirus technology that only blocks known bad activities, application whitelisting only allows approved activities. NIST advised organizations to use application whitelisting programs to prevent cybersecurity threats.

Application whitelisting works by creating a list of applications that are authorized by an organization to be present or active in its system, according to NIST's Guide to Application Whitelisting, released in early November. The whitelist minimizes security risks by preventing employees from downloading new software programs that potentially contain malware.

NIST said that application whitelisting is “especially appropriate for larger organizations with managed enterprise environments that enable strict centralized control over desktops and laptops connected to networks.”

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