Experts estimate that the use of unauthorized programs causes close to 50% of all data loss in the workplace. With the number of hacking incidents rising on a daily basis, this is not good news for any organization.
In a recent GCN article, the (ISC)² Government Advisory Board Executive Writers Bureau outlines eight key guidelines and recommendations that can make tackling the issue of unauthorized software much more manageable. They are summarized as follows:
- Nip it at the source. Prevent unauthorized software from even entering the government environment in the first place.
- Don’t forget active content and browser extensions. Enforce local browser/client settings or block associated network requests for such content at perimeter security gateways.
- Minimize administrative privileges. End users on government workstations should never be operating with administrative privileges by default and should not even have an option to elevate themselves to administrators unless required and properly audited.
- Use audit/monitor mode. This capability lets IT managers see the potential impact of application whitelisting and should be used to set expectations throughout an agency to minimize negative impacts.
- Draw a line in the sand. Temporarily whitelist the current footprint of executable software to ensure that no additional software is permitted into the enterprise while the current software is being assessed.
- Confirm senior leadership support. Full support from senior leadership is critical to make sure efforts to address unauthorized software continue while also forcing non-compliant business unit applications and processes to take appropriate remedial actions.
- Engage stakeholders early. A robust communications plan will help ensure stakeholders understand and support the efforts and are not surprised by any results.
- Prepare for emergency requests. There will always be exceptions where someone did not or could not plan appropriately, requiring execution of an unapproved application for a critical and time-sensitive business need.
For more details regarding (ISC)²’s plan to prevent unauthorized software, see the full GCN article.
IT SECURITY SUPPORT: Blue Mountain Data Systems provides IT Security Support Services for Federal Civilian Agencies. Looking to find Vulnerability Scanning and Testing, Penetration Testing, Risk Assessment & FISMA Reporting for your Federal Agency? Call Paul Vesely at 703-502-3416.