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What is Application Control?

A Definition of Application Control

Application control is a security practice that blocks or restricts unauthorized applications from executing in ways that put data at risk. The control functions vary based on the business purpose of the specific application, but the main objective is to help ensure the privacy and security of data used by and transmitted between applications.

Application control includes completeness and validity checks, identification, authentication, authorization, input controls, and forensic controls, among others.

  • Completeness checks – controls ensure records processing from initiation to completion
  • Validity checks – controls ensure only valid data is input or processed
  • Identification – controls ensure unique, irrefutable identification of all users
  • Authentication – controls provide an application system authentication mechanism
  • Authorization – controls ensure access to the application system by approved business users only
  • Input controls – controls ensure data integrity feeds into the application system from upstream sources
  • Forensic controls – controls ensure scientifically and mathematically correct data, based on inputs and outputs

Simply put, application controls ensure proper coverage and the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the application and its associated data. With the proper application controls, businesses and organizations greatly reduce the risks and threats associated with application usage because applications are prevented from executing if they put the network or sensitive data at risk.

Features and Benefits of Application Control

Companies have grown increasingly dependent upon applications in day-to-day business operations. With web-based, cloud-based, and third-party applications at the core of today’s business processes, companies are faced with the challenge of monitoring and controlling data security threats while operating efficiently and productively. Most application control solutions include whitelisting and blacklisting capabilities to show organizations which applications to trust and allow to execute and which to stop. With application control, companies of all sizes can eliminate the risks posed by malicious, illegal, and unauthorized software and network access.

Key features and benefits of application control:

  • Identify and control which applications are in your IT environment and which to add to the IT environment
  • Automatically identify trusted software that has authorization to run
  • Prevent all other, unauthorized applications from executing – they may be malicious, untrusted, or simply unwanted
  • Eliminate unknown and unwanted applications in your network to reduce IT complexity and application risk
  • Reduce the risks and costs associated with malware
  • Improve your overall network stability
  • Identify all applications running within the endpoint environment
  • Protect against exploits of unpatched OS and third-party application vulnerabilities

A Better Understanding of Data Environments with Application Control

Most application control solutions also allow for visibility into applications, users, and content. This is helpful for understanding the data your enterprise owns and controls, its storage locations, which users have access to it, the access points, and the data transmission process. These steps are required for data discovery and classification for risk management and regulatory compliance. Application control supports these processes and allows organizations to keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening within their network.

Application control gives companies and organizations knowledge about key areas regarding applications, web traffic, threats, and data patterns. Users can also benefit from application control by gaining a better understanding of applications or threats, applications’ key features and behavioral characteristics, details on who uses an application, and details on those affected by a threat. Organizations also gain knowledge about traffic source and destination, security rules, and zones to get a complete picture of application usage patterns, which in turn allows them to make more informed decisions on how to secure applications and identify risky behavior. While they are making those decisions, the application control solution is automatically protecting the network with whitelisting and blocking capabilities.