Blacklist untrustworthy apps that peek behind your firewall

With an increasing number of endpoints and expanding attack surfaces, dodgy apps can offer a way around your firewall.

unsafe apps

Due to data privacy concerns, Montana has passed the first bill in the United States to ban TikTok. Previously, India has banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, after claiming they were transmitting user data back to China. But such bans are difficult to enforce, and the apps are just a few in a vast ocean.

In a new world of remote workers and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, protecting customers and safeguarding data is harder than ever. Let’s explore why cybersecurity leaders should take matters into their own hands – rather than waiting for the government – and blacklist certain apps from their network.

Unsafe apps: Taking preemptive action

To start, investigate the apps used by your business and research the companies behind them. Where are they located? What are their data policies? Answering these questions will help you decide on the next steps.

Once you identify the apps you want to block, you need the right tools. One is unified endpoint management – a solution that enables admins to oversee all apps deployed on the endpoints and manage them. Then you can use blocklist policies to prevent users from installing unapproved applications. Endpoint management solutions also allow admins to keep all apps patched and up to date, irrespective of the endpoint’s location.

Businesses on a tighter budget can opt to deploy standalone mobile application management solutions. However, the wider scope of unified enterprise management makes it a better option for small and midsize businesses and enterprises.

When employees own the device in question, things get a little trickier. The popularity of BYOD culture and remote work prompted a significant cut-down of corporate-owned endpoints. With personal devices, it’s important to strike the right balance between protecting an employee’s privacy and securing corporate data.

For example, one approach creates containers within employee-owned devices where corporate data and apps are stored. As a result, admins can separate personal and corporate information. Within the container, admins enjoy complete access and can take the necessary measures to block all redundant or unsafe apps. At the same time, neither the company nor the admins are privy to anything outside the container.

Keeping remote workers safe

Questionable apps are not the only worry for cybersecurity leaders.

For research or collaboration, teams require an online connection. The issue here is the occasional visit to potentially dangerous websites, therefore organizations must also consider systems to block such sites. This is possible with web filtering or dedicated cloud security platforms that block harmful content.

Finally, a data security strategy would not be complete without a system to detect, analyze and respond to new breaches. The chosen system should gather and oversee data across endpoints, websites, applications, clouds and networks. The ideal choice would be extended detection and response (XDR). An integrated security operations system that unifies various licensed components, this tool enables threat detection and incident response by combining multiple security products. Additionally, with AI and machine learning, extended detection and response becomes smarter as it discovers new risks.

Bolstering your first line of defense

Whatever method you choose, bring your employees along for the ride. I say this because, last year, more than 80% of all data breaches happened due to human error. So, in addition to cybersecurity tools and incident response strategies, educate your team.

Every employee must be aware of the threats and privacy concerns they face. Proper and regular cybersecurity training will arm your employees against digital dangers. It may seem daunting, but these simple practices will bolster your cyber resilience and help create a more secure business network. At the end of the day, employees are your first line of defense and strengthening them should always be a priority.

In my view, governments are trying to do the right thing by banning certain apps. But, ultimately, there’s no use waiting for the public sector to tell you how to protect yourself. Take control of your enterprise endpoints and your customer data today.

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