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Sep 30, 2016 BY Tim Foley

Catching Fireflies: Rogue Applications and Your IT Environment

It’s a warm summer’s night with the moon beaming down and the smell of freshly cut grass lingering in the air. A firefly floats by you, lightly glowing as it passes. You follow it until success, you’ve added it to your jar of many and have met your goal of catching them all! But once you’ve caught that one, another one appears. Then another one and another until you suddenly realize that you are surrounded by thousands and there is no way for you to catch them all.

Rogue applications in your business’ IT environment can be as numerous as fireflies during the summer. Each time you update one end-user’s software, you find 50 more that need to be patched. While you will never be able to catch every firefly, there are ways to manage your end-user applications to catch and update each one. Let’s take a look at why you need to be aware of the applications in your environment.

1. The Ugly Side of End-User Applications

Adobe Reader, Java, Spotify, DropBox…these are a few of the endless applications that end users may utilize in your business environment. While each of these applications can be a great asset for your employees, they also have downsides. Unmonitored and unmanaged end-user application downloading can lead to problems such as lack of compatibility with current company-wide software or unintentionally downloaded pirated or bittorrent software that can cause compliance issues for your business. Additionally, each of these applications continuously has software package updates for patching and maintenance that need to be deployed on end-user systems, either by your business’ IT department or users themselves. Without updating, the software can be missing critical security patching that could leave your business vulnerable. Think about how often you click “Remind Me Later” when an update pops up on your computer. Every minute an update is delayed is another minute your business is missing a version of software where vulnerabilities have been mitigated and resolved in the new software package. 

2. Transparency is Key

To best handle your business applications, you need to understand what applications and what versions of these applications exist in your environment. Transparency is key to ensuring your business is secure; and if you haven’t thought about how many software applications are in your environment, it may be time for a deeper look. Once you have an understanding of where your business stands, you gain the transparency you need to make better business decisions to keep you secure.

3. Where to Begin

In order to achieve transparency and increase your endpoint security, you’ll need to assess your IT environment. Knowing what applications exist in your environment is the first step in properly mitigating the risks of rogue software applications; however, trying to audit the applications and version control for each employee can be a daunting task. Application whitelisting relieves your business of this time-consuming undertaking while still providing transparency. With application whitelisting, your business centrally manages what applications are installed on end-user terminals within your network, giving you peace of mind that the software your employees are using is up-to-date and secure. 

Dataprise is here to help your business take the first step towards a more secure IT environment. We have the expertise to assist you with mitigating the risks of rogue applications, from assessing your current environment to setting up application whitelisting for your organization. Once application whitelisting is implemented in your environment, we can work with you to develop acceptable use policies and employee training to guide end-users towards better security practices. 

Need assistance catching the rogue applications in your business? Contact us today to learn more about our IT Security Assessments to determine where your security stands in comparison to the latest best practices.

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