Application control gives businesses the ability to block, restrict, or allow applications from executing on network devices. App blocking is a measure that improves your application security by preventing application-based threats on individuals and organizations.


Free Trial

What is a software application?

Applications, popularly referred to as apps, are ubiquitous. These software programs that are designed to perform a specific function or set of functions for users are found on computers and personal devices on a consumer and enterprise level.

Whether the application is a small program designed for consumer use or an enterprise-level application that supports organizations such as businesses or governments, controlling it can be necessary to improve security, confidentiality, integrity, and productivity.

Read this in-depth guide for more on:

  1. Application control definition.
  2. How to block apps on iPhone.
  3. How to block apps on Android.
  4. How does application control work?

Application control definition: What is application control?

Application controls are security measures used to manage the use of specific applications on a system, such as a cloud computing platform or a mobile device. They can block apps from being installed on a device or prevent certain apps from being used. Administrators typically use application controls to block apps that they consider to be unsafe or inappropriate.

Application controls can also be leveraged to block access to apps that lead to unsafe websites. Blocking such apps can be more practical than blocking IP addresses, as Austria discovered in late 2022.

There are a few different ways and technologies that implement application controls. For example, your operating system should have application control settings. In addition, organizations may use a robust firewall or third-party software designed for application control.

An application control blacklist, also known as a blocklist, is a list of apps that are denylisted from use on a system. Conversely, an application control whitelist, also known as a safelist, is a list of apps allowed on a system.

Application controls can be beneficial in a few different ways. They can help to improve security by preventing unauthorized apps from being used on a device. They can also help improve productivity by ensuring that only work-related apps are available to users.

If you’re considering implementing application controls, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Decide what apps you want to allow or block.
  2. Decide how you want to implement the controls.
  3.  Run tests to ensure your application controls are working as intended.
hero bg

Malwarebytes Application Block for Business

  • Secure apps on business networks against ransomware, malware, and other application-based cyberattacks.
  • Ensure your application security blocks unauthorized apps from executing on Windows machines.
  • Empower your IT security team’s application control measures.



How does application control work?

Application control works by allowing administrators such as network specialists in organizations or parents at home to manage application usage on a system or device. Home users may use application control tools built into their devices, or they may download third-party software. But application control systems for organizations are more advanced.

Businesses use application control tools that prevent software from executing in a manner that puts data, workflow, or operational integrity at risk. Typical application control technology in an organization works by matching network traffic flow with predefined condition models. Network administrators may categorize applications by security risk level, resource usage, and the purpose they serve. Programs can be prioritized by these classifications.

Common application control features include:

  1. Identification.
  2. Authentication.
  3. Authorization.
  4. Completeness and validity checks.
  5. Input and forensic controls.

App blocking definition: What is app blocking?

App blocking is the process of stopping an app from running on a device. The process can have different applications. For example, a parent can use app blocking to prevent their children from using certain apps during class, or a network administrator may use the tool to help workers stay focused by blocking apps that are not work-related.

There are several ways to block apps, including using apps that block other apps, setting up restrictions on devices, or using third-party software that blocks apps.

How to block apps

Parents can use third-party or built-in tools on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS to block apps. Meanwhile, organizations can use enterprise-level third-party app-blocking software to prevent users from downloading apps on Android, Apple, and Windows devices. Some firewalls also allow enterprises to block apps from usage.

icon shield

Malwarebytes Vulnerability and Patch Management

Patch application vulnerabilities and stop malware intrusions targeting company data. Proactively prevent breaches and safeguard productivity.



How to block apps on iPhone

You might want to block apps on an iPhone for various reasons. Perhaps you want to limit screen time, or maybe you want to avoid social media. Whatever your reasons, blocking apps on your iPhone can be a helpful way to improve your productivity and focus.

There are a few different ways you can block apps on your iPhone. You can use the built-in Screen Time feature or download a third-party app like Freedom or FocusMe.

Restrict App Store downloads

To stop iTunes & App Store Purchases:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  4. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases
  5. Select the right setting to restrict App Store downloads.

Set up restrictions to explicit or adult content

While Apple claims that its mobile operating systems automatically filter website content to shield users from adult content, you can also allow or block specific websites:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  4. Enter your Screen Time passcode.
  5. Tap Content Restrictions.
  6. Tap Web Content.
  7. You can select between Unrestricted, Limit Adult Websites, and Allowed Websites to filter content.

Set screen time limits

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to Screen Time and turn on Screen Time.
  3. Use the Downtime settings to manage limits.

How to block apps on Android

You can either use a third-party application like AppBlock to block websites and apps on Android or use your device’s settings:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap the application you want to manage.
  4.  Use the right settings to manage Permissions, Force stop, or Uninstall the app.

As a parent, you can also use Google Family Link to set screen time limits and block apps on Android:

  1. Start the Family Link app.
  2. Pick the account.
  3. Tap Controls.
  4. Tap App limits.
  5.  Select the app.
  6. Tap Block.

How to block apps on computer

You can use a third-party program to block apps on a computer or the tools in the operating system. Organizations can use tools like the application control security technology baked into certain next-generation firewalls (NGFWs). You can read more about how a next-generation firewall works to learn more.

Why block apps in your organization

As remote working and BYOD become commonplace, cybersecurity incidents are rising. So, what is BYOD? Well, BYOD means Bring Your Own Device. And although convenient, BYOD creates risks.

With employees bringing their own devices to work, organizations want to protect their resources from endpoint security concerns, especially with some employees clicking on everything with gay abandon.

Application control helps secure the data used or transferred between applications in an organization’s system. Organizations can stop staff from installing potentially malicious applications.

Blocking apps may also improve productivity and workflow by restricting employee access to inappropriate or distracting applications such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), games, and instant messaging.

We also recommend that organizations invest in endpoint protection to ensure the safety of laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other endpoints from different types of malware, such as zero-day exploits, ransomware, and other threats. Pick a lightweight endpoint security tool that delivers accurate verdicts, offers simplified management, stops malware outbreaks, and saves your enterprise money by reducing downtime.

Learn more about how Malwarebytes Application Block for Windows machines secures business applications in modern threat environments.

Application controls examples: Types of application controls

Input controls

Input controls manage data inputs. An input control tool stops users from feeding unverified data into the system.

Output controls

Output controls manage data outputs, verifying data before it exits a system. Output controls may verify that data is correct, complete, and transferring to the right target.

Processing controls

Processing controls ensure that data is processed acceptably before it enters into a system. A validity check, for example, ensures that all processed data is correct.

Access controls

Granting access to users on a need-to-know basis is critical to security. Access controls ensure that users are authorized to perform their actions, such as viewing information or modifying inputs.

Integrity controls

The integrity of data input is maintained by integrity controls. These controls outline rules, such as the format of a date or the type of characters in an input.

Application control features and benefits: Which features are provided by application control?

  1. Authenticate software to ensure that only verified apps are usable and reduce cybersecurity threats.  
  2. Policies for applications set the right guidelines to enable a zero-trust security architecture.
  3. Improved network visibility to identify potential red flags like an incoming data breach.
  4. Protection against exploits that hackers may use to target apps.
  5. Streamline networking in the corporate network with latency-sensitive apps prioritized for better performance.

Application controls audit: How to audit your application controls

While application control audit steps vary by organization, there are some general rules to follow:

  1. Identify all the controls at your disposal.
  2. Assess the control design.
  3. Test controls.
  4. Document results.

Essential security solutions for businesses in addition to application control tools

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Ransomware is a real menace, hurting the finances and reputations of companies worldwide. Some smaller companies, unfortunately, never recover from a ransomware attack. Now, imagine a tool that offers 100% guaranteed security against ransomware attacks. Our next-gen EDR solution shields businesses against ransomware, malware, Trojans, rootkits, backdoors, viruses, brute force attacks, zero-day threats, and more.

Additional reading: What is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

MDR is a top cybersecurity service that offers 24/7 monitoring of your organization’s environment. Read about the three ways in which MDR can drive business growth for managed service providers today.

Additional reading: What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?

Managed Service Provider Program

Instead of worrying about the security needs of your customers, utilize your resources for growth. Our Managed Service Provider program offers ready access to cutting-edge endpoint security services your business customers demand.

DNS Filtering Module

The web is a common source of phishing attacks, ransomware infections, malware, and distractions. Our DNS Filtering module is an extension of our cloud-based security platform. It blocks sites and subdomains that may negatively impact your organization’s security and workflow.

Additional reading: What is DNS Filtering?

What is the future of application control?

Application control is an essential part of security for both businesses and individuals. It can help protect you against malware and other threats that can compromise a system. It also enhances productivity and shields vulnerable people from inappropriate content.

As the world becomes more connected and more devices can connect to the internet, the need for application control will only grow.

There are already many different application control tools available, and we’ll likely see more sophisticated software in the future. After all, with the proliferation of the internet of things devices, application control will become more critical to protect users from a new breed of privacy and security threats.

Discover award-winning antivirus, detection & response, and managed cybersecurity solutions. Enhance visibility across business network attack surfaces.





How do I block apps?

You can block apps by using your device's software or downloading a third-party app blocker. Typically, you'll find the ability to block an app in your device's settings menu. Malwarebytes Application Block is an app blocker solution designed to protect small businesses from application-introduced malware, ransomware, and other critical threats that target application software vulnerabilities. Combining Application Block with Malwarebytes Vulnerability Management is a powerful duo against web-based threats targeting company data.

Why is application control important for small businesses?

Application control is a critical security aspect for organizations of all sizes. Businesses can reduce the risk of malicious software and other security threats by restricting the programs and applications that users can access and run on their computers.

Application control can also help businesses stay compliant with industry regulations, such as data privacy. By restricting access to sensitive data, businesses can ensure that this data is not mishandled or accessed by unauthorized users.

Finally, application control can improve workflow and productivity by limiting access to unnecessary apps.

What is application control policy?

An application control policy can be a set of rules and guidelines that dictate the application control process. In layman's terms, an application control policy enables a company to block, allow, or modify different kinds of applications.

How do you implement application control?

You implement application control in an organization by setting an application control policy and using the right tools to execute it. An application control audit can ensure that an organization meets the needs of its application control policy.

For further reading, please check:

•        Microsoft appears to be rolling back Office Macro blocking

•        5 essential security tips for small and medium-sized businesses