When Covid-19 burst into our lives, we had to embrace drastic changes like remote work models. Afterward, most businesses had to adopt digital transformation and strengthen cybersecurity inside the network perimeter as employees no longer accessed corporate resources and cloud services via corporate LAN.
Additionally, the increasing number of cloud services and SaaS applications brought a new set of security risks for businesses. In fact, three out of five businesses were attacked via the software supply chain in 2021. In this regard, cloud environments and SaaS applications aren’t as secure as most people think. These environments need to be secured.
When these complexities are taken into account, it is clear that legacy technologies can’t deliver the security requirements of the modern day. As of 2022, establishing network security is critical and businesses can accomplish this by implementing and combining modern security solutions like Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Remote Access VPN, and so on.
Among these security solutions, most people often overlook the importance of IP whitelisting. In this article, we gathered common IP whitelisting scenarios and the pros and cons of IP whitelisting. Before we dive into these topics, let’s briefly explain what is IP whitelisting first.
What Is IP Whitelisting
In today’s world, implementing IP whitelisting can strengthen network security. In essence, IP whitelisting is a cybersecurity technique that allows IT administrators to create a list of authorized IP addresses and dedicated static IP addresses for a business and permit access to corporate networks and resources from whitelist IP addresses only.
In this technique, all employees and devices are assigned whitelist IP addresses. Generally, these IP addresses are the locations that employees work from. Whitelist IP addresses are a unique vector for deciding who is permitted to access and who isn’t. For example, when an employee requests access to corporate networks from an unlisted IP address, his access is restricted.
IP whitelisting allows IT administrators to set access permission based on IP addresses and this requirement applies to all systems inside the network perimeter. When IP whitelisting is integrated well, it can guarantee that only authorized users can access corporate networks and resources. Additionally, it ensures only authorized activities can be conducted on vital resources.
IP whitelisting is compatible with Zero Trust Network Access solutions and VPNs. When IP whitelisting is combined with these security solutions can enable enhanced network security and greater control over who can access corporate networks and from where.
Common IP Whitelisting Scenarios
1- Network Access Control
IP whitelisting enables better network access control as IT administrators can set whitelist IP addresses for each user or group. All users who request access to corporate networks must access from whitelist IP addresses, if a user’s IP address doesn’t match with whitelist IP addresses, simply this user’s access will be restricted. So, IP whitelisting can be used for establishing better network access control.
2- SaaS and Cloud Access Control
IP whitelisting can be used for establishing better SaaS and Cloud access control. Because the same methodology that is used for network access applies to access to SaaS applications and cloud services. So, IT administrators can set access permissions based on whitelist IP addresses.
3- Secure Remote Access
As mentioned earlier, an IP whitelist can be used with VPNs. Users can connect to corporate networks by using a client VPN gateway with a dedicated static IP. This means that employees can reach corporate networks securely even if they use unsecured wifi networks. So, IP whitelisting can be used for enabling secure remote access.
Pros of IP Whitelisting
1- Enhanced Security
IP whitelisting enables enhanced network security as access permissions are strictly controlled by IT administrators. This way, it prevents users who don’t match whitelist IP addresses from gaining unauthorized access to corporate resources. Additionally, it mitigates security risks associated with network-based attacks and prevents DDoS, Dos, and man-in-the-middle attacks. Even if a cyber attack occurs it reduces the impacts of attacks as it blocks lateral movement.
2- Better Access Control and Visibility
While using IP whitelisting techniques, IT administrators can be as strict as they want to. Additionally, it enables greater visibility as IT administrators can control and see who is accessing which resources. Rigid access control and visibility are important variables for establishing network security and IP whitelisting delivers these features.
3- Simple to Use and Cost Efficient
IP whitelisting doesn’t require on-premise infrastructure and it is cost-efficient. IP whitelisting has a simple use, IT administrators can manage IP whitelisting from centralized control panels. Additionally, IT administrators can add or remove IP addresses any time they need.
Cons of IP Whitelisting
1- Labor Intensive
Setting the right access permissions and whitelist IP addresses can be labor intensive, especially for organizations that have hundreds of employees. So, creating a whitelist IP address list can consume a lot of time and labor.
2- Managing Whitelist IP Addresses Require Additional Resources
Over time, users’ roles and access privileges can change constantly. As users’ roles change their whitelist IP addresses need to be up-to-date. In this regard, keeping whitelist IP addresses up-to-date might require additional resources, work, and time.
Nowadays, establishing network security is really crucial for all sizes of businesses. IP whitelisting can be used to strengthen network security as it allows businesses to set rigid network access control based on whitelist IP addresses.
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