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PC security: are malware whitelists friend or foe?

The dangers of blocking all unknown applications

PC Advisor investigates the dangers of blocking all unknown applications.

Dedicated whitelisting services

If you're happy with your firewall and just want a dedicated whitelisting security program, System Safety Monitor Free Edition makes for both a quick download and a quick installation under Windows XP, 2000, 98 and Me.

You can set an advanced level of rules for what any given program can or can't do on your system. On the downside, you'll get an alert for almost every program, including common web browsers, and novices may find the information in the pop-ups hard to decipher. It's easy to quickly change a mistaken decision, however.

Finally, if you want to access a whitelist with minimal impact, the Fileadvisor Explorer extension from Bit9 adds a right-click option to check any given file or program against the company's own online whitelist. You'll need to register with the site to get search results (which display in your browser), but since it doesn't block anything, you don't run any risk by using it.

For other free whitelist download recommendations, head to posts on the Wilders Security Forums and CastleCops, two excellent if technical security resources.

But be aware that whitelists are unlikely to offer you peace of mind or protection in all cases. Whitelists will never be a panacea for internet security, but as time goes by they will become an increasingly important part of your layered arsenal of protection tools.

  1. Are whitelists friend or foe? Keeping tabs on malware
  2. Are whitelists friend or foe? Community-based security
  3. Are whitelists friend or foe? Free downloads
  4. Are whitelists friend or foe? Dedicated whitelisting services

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