Known as the air-gap model in the cybersecurity industry, browser isolation is an advanced security precaution to protect computers and networks. This technique typically requires more setup and installation than software or firewalls, but has proven to be effective at preventing malware incursions. Isolation is quickly becoming a staple for businesses and government agencies that want to protect their digital assets from the numerous threats lurking on the internet. Cybersecurity professionals should expect to use this method as part of their broader network strategy in commercial environments.
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The Basics of Air-Gap Security
The concept behind browser isolation first took hold decades ago when organizations physically separated various internal networks into groups. The physical gap ensures that viruses and malicious incursions are limited to only the systems directly infected. A simple way to create an air-gap is to isolate select servers and computers that house particularly sensitive information or as comprehensive backups for the entire system. However, developments in internet and computer technology now allow companies to exclude certain types of activity across their entire network without physical partitions.
Digital Isolation of User Activity
Modern digital isolation is an evolution of the air-gap concept that is accomplished through virtualization and containerization. This technique requires installation and setup of software on all endpoint computers and data centers in the network. When users browse the internet, the program creates a separate virtual environment to run all downloads and unverified web code. Data from these sessions is usually discarded once the browsing session is terminated even if no threat was detected. This technology can also be adjusted to clean and reconstruct downloads so they can be safely transferred to the network.
Key Benefits of Isolation
The main advantage of isolation is that it is one of the most reliable methods for reducing browser-initiated malware. This is a big issue for enterprise-level businesses and organizations, who can attribute roughly 80 percent of malware to client web browser activity, according to Forbes. As long as users and network administrators follow protocol, there is minimal risk of malware infiltration on network computers or devices. The isolation method has a significant advantage over anti-virus software and firewalls since it does not need to be tailored to defend against specific threats, which typically evolve at a much faster rate than security tools.
Potential Drawbacks and Considerations
Despite the pronounced advantages of isolating user browsing activity, there are a few notable considerations that can impact overall results. Installation and maintenance of virtualization software requires cybersecurity and networking expertise, so companies may need to hire contractors or invest in their IT resources. Virtualization of browsers can also cause some delay, which can be frustrating to users and encourage them to find ways around the security measures. Organizations that implement isolation often do so alongside conventional methods in case user error compromises the first line of defense.
Cyber-crime has emerged as one of the most crucial issues facing modern governments and businesses around the world, so effective digital security tactics are more important than ever before. Browser isolation provides a reprieve from most browser-based malicious attacks, making it an appealing choice for any organization or individual seeking better protection from digital threats.