What is Allowlisting?

Goran Lepan
March 13, 2024


In today's digital age, many businesses leverage the convenience of storing data across numerous devices and applications. However, while many interconnected systems offer operational benefits, they expose companies to a broader range of potential cyberattacks and data breaches. This makes endpoint security strategies more important than ever. Application allowlisting (previously known as whitelisting) is a form of endpoint security that is fundamental in helping organisations meet and maintain compliance requirements and regulatory standards and increase overall cyber security.


Application control is a security approach designed to protect against malicious code (also known as malware) executing on systems. The cybersecurity practice involves creating a list of trusted sources, applications, or files. Only those on the list are permitted to access a system, run on a device, or interact with associated data. This approach not only minimises the risk of execution of unauthorised applications or spread of malicious code and is highly effective in preventing sophisticated malware and file-based attacks, including ransomware. Allowlisting gives administrators and organisations more control and is strongly recommended by several cybersecurity frameworks, including NIST and the Essential Eight.    


Allowlisting is a security measure that strictly controls which applications can execute on a computer system. The process involves several key steps:

  1. Defining Authorised Applications - a list of approved applications is created internally by the organisation's IT team or by a trusted security vendor. The list should only include applications considered essential for daily operations and deemed safe to run.
  2. Implementation Through Software - specialised application allowlisting software is installed on the system. This software continuously monitors attempts to run applications.
  3. Verification Process - whenever an application attempts to execute, the allowlisting software checks it against the predefined list of authorised applications.
  4. Granting or Denying Access - if the application attempting to run matches an entry on the allowlist, it's granted permission to execute; otherwise, it will be blocked from running, preventing unauthorised or potentially malicious software from infiltrating the system.
  5. Real-Time Monitoring - as well as stopping undesired applications from running, allowlisting conducts granular inspections of application installation packages to verify file integrity and monitors operating systems in real time.

Allowlisting differs significantly from antivirus software. Instead of blocking bad activity, it permits good activity and blocks everything else. This approach ensures that only applications explicitly approved by the organisation can run, significantly reducing the risk of malware infections and unauthorised software installation.


Allowlisting provides a proactive approach to endpoint security by giving organisations granular control over which applications can execute on their systems. Key capabilities include:

  • Precise Application Definition - define exactly which applications are trusted and permitted to run on endpoints. This ensures only authorised code executes, significantly reducing the attack surface and the risk of malware infections.
  • Real-Time Execution Visibility - leverage real-time data on application execution. This data can be used to identify unauthorised attempts and inform policy adjustments to minimise disruption to legitimate workflows.
  • Streamlined Policy Management - user-friendly workflows simplify allowlist creation and maintenance. IT staff, even without extensive cybersecurity expertise, can efficiently manage day-to-day operations.
  • Deployment Flexibility - deploy to on-premise or cloud-based environments, selecting the option that best suits your infrastructure needs.


By implementing application allowlisting your business can reap a multitude of benefits:

  • Proactively Block Malware - significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks by blocking the execution of unauthorised and potentially malicious applications. This includes threats like malware, ransomware, and even zero-day attacks.
  • Reduce Breach Risk - minimise the attack surface and potential entry points for cybercriminals by limiting software execution. This translates to a lower risk of costly data breaches and associated recovery expenses.
  • Improve Efficiency - streamline IT operations by reducing the need to constantly monitor and manage a vast array of software applications. This allows IT teams to focus on more strategic security initiatives.
  • Meet Compliance Requirements - help meet and maintain compliance with various security regulations and industry standards.
  • Legacy System Support - extend the operational life of legacy systems by preventing unauthorised software from compromising their functionality.


With the growing prevalence of cyber threats targeting valuable data across multiple devices, endpoint protection has become fundamental. By implementing application allowlisting, you restrict devices to only run authorised applications, significantly reducing the attack surface and potential vulnerabilities exploited by malicious software.

If you'd like to learn more about allowlisting and how our scalable allowlisting and execution control solutions can help your business, contact the experts at InfoTrust today.