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This, along with blacklisting, is one of the oldest filtering techniques out there. Essentially, this kind of filter ensures that only traffic traversing through certain pre-designated ports can access network resources.
In particular, the Internet Engineering Task Force noted that many firms used to only allow outgoing requests through ports 80 and 443, which would limit traffic to just HTTP requests. However, with the number of threats coming through via HTTP and even HTTPS at an all-time high and rising, limiting traffic to just these ports would likely do little to keep malware and cybercriminals off a corporate network.
Whitelisting is the opposite of blacklisting in that instead of blocking access to select sites, access is only allowed to a select number of sites, apps and programs, with everything else restricted by default. This is typically an easier way to block access to lots of traffic in one fell swoop, but setting up a whitelist can be a challenge and legitimate, approved sites can still harbor potential threats.
While all of the above firewall filters have their own unique strengths, not one of them alone would be effective at protecting the network. Instead, it is advisable to combine elements of all of them and others in the creation of custom rules. For example, a company could block access to the network from certain sites and from specific countries during non-core business hours. This kind of custom rule would combine the strengths of many different pre-existing firewall settings in a way that more effectively protects the network.
Still, even with custom rules in place, additional oversight would be necessary. That way, even if a cybercriminal or malicious insider was able to bypass the custom rules filters, anomalous behavior could still be spotted and acted upon in a timely manner. This combination of custom rules and diligent network oversight is perhaps the best way an organization can both stop the majority of potential threats and ensure that issues that do arise don’t snowball out of control.