Locking Down Desktops With McAfee’s Application Control

Computer malware has evolved so rapidly in the last few years that it now represents the biggest threat to the online operations of companies. Today, viruses masquerade as unassuming Adobe Flash installers, Internet servers can be felled by a single stealthy worm, and security software firms struggle to keep abreast of every insidious new strain. So how do you protect your organization’s entire network of computers from falling prey to malware?

Introducing McAfee’s Desktop Application Control, a whitelisted app product that allows customers to customize their levels of protection against unknown, advanced malware. Aiming to pick up where traditional endpoint security ends, Application Control uses a centrally managed system to block unauthorized applications and code on servers, corporate desktops, and fixed-function devices.

Conventional antivirus technologies operate by simply blocking harmful malware, as recognized from universally generated lists. Using this method, both trustworthy ‘White’ files and unknown ‘Gray’ files are allowed to run, while only known ‘Black’ malware is banned. While this eliminates generic malware, it still leaves organizations susceptible to sophisticated attacks created by hackers who seek to disrupt operations or access intellectual property.

The difference with Application Control is that it operates on an approval process, allowing only pre-screened ‘White’ applications to run. Additionally, instead of requiring IT departments to pre-screen every download or file, the Application Control is fully automated, using several methods to create a Whitelist. Files from COE (Common Operating Environments), Trusted Updaters (like SCCM), Trusted Certificates, software repositories are all pre-approved. As an added bonus, organizations can tune down their Antivirus, choosing to turn off On Access Scan (OAS) and rely on On Demand Scan (ODS) alone.

While remarkably more advanced than existing antivirus protection software on the market, this product may not be the best solution for every company. For instance, corporate organizations with admin-managed desktops/laptops will find it more advantageous than companies where employees have typically had freedom to install apps as they please. All in all, this Desktop Application product offering represents a significant advancement in the field of malware protection.

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