The Dark Side of Browser Isolation – and the Next Generation Browser Security Technologies

Sep 28, 2023The Hacker NewsBrowser Security / Cybersecurity

The landscape of browser security has undergone significant changes over the past decade. While Browser Isolation was once considered the gold standard for protecting against browser exploits and malware downloads, it has become increasingly inadequate and insecure in today’s SaaS-centric world.

The limitations of Browser Isolation, such as degraded browser performance and inability to tackle modern web-borne threats like phishing and malicious extensions, necessitate a shift towards more advanced solutions. These are the findings of a new report, titled “The Dark Side of Browser Isolation and the Next Generation of Browser Security” (Download here).

The Roots of Browser Isolation

In the past, traditional signature-based antiviruses were commonly used to protect against on-device malware infections. However, they failed to block two main types of threats. The first, browser exploit, especially in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The second, drive-by malware downloads, i.e using social engineering to trick users into downloading a malicious executable.

Browser isolation emerged as a simple and effective solution to these risks. With browser isolation, unknown code runs in an isolated environment rather than directly on the endpoint. This insulates the devices and users from the code, which protects them if the code is malicious.

Browser Isolation Security Gaps in a Browser-centric Era

While browser isolation was an effective security approach, it impacted business productivity. Isolation and virtualization require CPU, resulting in a speed and performance decrease. As a result, adoption was limited, since many organizations prioritized their productivity over security. Today, the modern workspace relies even more heavily on the browser and SaaS apps, making the performance impact all the more substantial when making security decisions.

Additionally, there has been a flux in web-borne threats, like phishing, malware, ransomware, and others, and their nature has changed as well. Browser isolation solutions were built to protect against the previous generation of threats, creating a security gap.

The Next Generation of Browser Security Solutions: Secure Browser Extensions

Secure Browser Extensions are designed to address these evolving challenges in browser security. This new technology aims to replace the now-obsolete Browser Isolation techniques, offering a more efficient, secure and user-friendly approach to web security.

Such extensions offer:

  • Visibility: Real-time insights into every event within the browsing session.
  • Risk Analysis: Continuous monitoring and validation of malicious activity.
  • Granular Enforcement: Automated responses to detected threats, including disabling malicious web page components or blocking access altogether.

The Secure Browser Extension integrates natively into existing browsers, offering a seamless user experience. It employs machine learning algorithms to monitor and analyze each component of a web page as it loads, effectively identifying and neutralizing threats like file downloads, credential harvesting, and unauthorized extension installations.

Key Advantages Over Browser Isolation

No Impact on Performance: Unlike Browser Isolation, which is known for heavy CPU consumption, Secure Browser Extensions have negligible impact on the browsing experience.

Easy Deployment: The extension can be centrally deployed on managed devices and easily installed on unmanaged devices, making it ideal for all types of workplaces and for third-party use.

To read the entire report, including a comprehensive comparison of browser isolation with secure browser extensions, you can read the entire report here.

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