NordLayer - Network Security

What is IP allowlisting (whitelisting), and how can it secure your business?

By NordLayer
10 Aug 2021
6 min read
What is IP whitelisting?

IP allowlisting — what is it?

When you think about network security, what are the first things that come to your mind? I’d guess you would think about firewalls, encryption, and maybe even a VPN. However, there is an essential piece missing in most company’s security assets: IP allowlisting. 

Despite the less than enthusiastic name, IP allowlisting is an incredibly powerful and valuable tool in the fight against data breaches. 

IP allowlisting allows IT admins to control a list of trusted employee or contractor IP addresses — with permissions set to access specific data or applications on a company network. This form of identity and access management is a significant leap to optimal cloud security.

IP whitelisting for Google Cloud, Amazon AWS, Salesforce, Azure

There is a seemingly endless myth in the world of business: Cloud apps are secure. The thing is, to a degree, yes, they are. But only to a degree.

Is the cloud secure? 

When you imagine the variety of difficulties that can occur to locally based data (think hard drives, local servers), you may assume that moving all of that to a ‘secure,’ managed, and trusted cloud service provider would magically remove those problems.

The issue is this: Cloud apps aren’t magically more secure by virtue of not being hosted in your building – the value they bring is in the Software as a Service (SaaS) they provide.  

The majority of the world has gone remote, that’s a fact of the last year, and there isn’t a lot we can do about it. Despite the many benefits this brings to both employees and businesses, the associated risks have skyrocketed. 

These associated risks, which come naturally with the levels of decentralization we have seen in the last few months and years, have shown their ugly face — challenges such as unencrypted networks, unlisted websites, and slow speeds. Unauthorized users are gaining access to unsecured corporate data, and 79% of companies experienced at least one cloud data breach in the past 18 months.

Whereas previously, an employee would only be able to access apps and software through the local network, nowadays, businesses must trust that the remote connection is robust and secure.

This is where IP allowlisting comes in.

How does IP Allowlisting actually provide extra security?

IP allowlisting fits into the Zero Trust model and goes by the principle of ‘deny all and permit some.’ So by default, all unknown entities are denied access to the network’s resources. If unauthorized IPs cannot access data or applications, you eliminate all of the typical attack vectors — password guessing, password stuffing, protocol flaws, etc. 

By setting a static dedicated IP, you have the opportunity to be as strict as you like with your dedicated server — deciding who/what can access your secure resources.

Why should you use IP allowlisting?

Fluid workforces need a flexible solution, so IP allowlisting can be deployed to mitigate the dangers of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies. This form of identity and access management gives your business additional visibility and control of who can access specific resources in your cloud storage. IP allowlisting is seamlessly integrated into our Control Panel, so it’s super easy to monitor and manage. 

Paired with other simple security measures such as 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication), — IP allowlisting is a simple and effective way to level up your cloud security. 

How IP whitelisting works

The Cloud has allowed businesses to migrate data away from local network environments and onto the internet – as such, making sure that your company’s data is safe in the cloud is just as important as protecting your company’s network. 

What does allowlist mean?

Allowlisting is the process of (in a general sense) creating a list of approved things. These can be anything; for example, an email allowlist could stop specific email addresses from going to a spam inbox or ensure that only email addresses on the allowlist can reach a particular inbox. 

In terms of an IP allowlist, the principle is the same — allowing and disallowing. You set the parameters, say a user needs to access a cloud app like Dropbox for sensitive files, and then that user can only access the app if their IP address matches the one listed. If it doesn’t match, then access will simply be denied. 

IP allowlisting for your business

IP allowlisting isn’t just for developers or software companies; it’s a piece of technology that allows almost anyone to create a safer network. 

Cloud computing security is essential for efficient development environments, but there are several vulnerabilities that may expose the network to attacks. With IP allowlisting, you take control of permissions to specific data or apps on your cloud network — reducing the surface area for attack.

Marketing companies usually comprise of many types of employees, and one of the biggest in this industry is freelancers and contractors. As the name suggests, these employees are most likely remote workers, and as such, the risk when they connect to vital company resources is much higher.

Did you know that up to 32% of all successful cyber attacks annually are targeted at the digital retail and e-commerce experience sectors? The shift in consumer mentality has led to enormous growth in the e-commerce industry in recent years, and this has provided a breeding ground for cybercriminals to exploit.

By their nature, the finance, law, and consultancy sectors deal with massive volumes of sensitive data. For personal reputation, GDPR compliance, and the integrity of their complex software systems, the risk of data breaches caused by malicious users is an almost constant threat.

Related articles:

Securing Cloud Computing for Developers

Why network access control is perfect for protecting client data

5 ways the advertising & marketing industry can get creative with their Cloud VPN service

How to allowlist cloud apps

While we know that IP allowlisting may sound like a complicated thing to get started with, in fact, it doesn’t take longer than a few minutes at most, and the benefits of allowlisting are clear.

We’ve put together these helpful guides for some of the most popular cloud tools — check them out below.

IP allowlisting guide for Google Cloud Platform

IP allowlisting guide for Microsoft Azure Portal

IP allowlisting guide for Amazon AWS

IP allowlisting guide for Salesforce

Why NordLayer?

NordLayer’ solution can easily integrate into cloud applications and services, so it’s hassle-free. What’s more, our IP allowlisting gives you visibility and control over all employee cloud activity via a centralized Control Panel. 

Single Sign-On (SSO) can also be set up so that each employee has one set of login credentials for the vast majority of the web-based tools they require.

No additional infrastructure is required — NordLayer is a Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) solution that gives you the flexibility to grow without the shackles of a traditional, manual setup.

Get IP allowlisting via our dedicated server option

NordLayer’s IP allowlisting acts as the gatekeeper to your cloud network. It reduces the surface area for cyber attacks and granulates access to pre-approved resources. This will not only prevent potentially harmful data breaches from unauthorized users but will also give you and your customers peace of mind.

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