Isolation Technology: Path to a malware free secure enterprise

Samir Shah is CEO, Cyberinc – An Aurionpro Company
Samir Shah is CEO, Cyberinc – An Aurionpro Company

Isolation Technology creates a secure execution environment between users and the web. It executes the browser instance outside of the firewall and thus all code, including potentially malicious content is executed remotely, and only a safe harmless pixel is sent to the user’s endpoint

The increasing need for the information age companies and governments to rely on cyber infrastructure is making them progressively more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.  Modern day digital enterprises expanding their IT perimeter into cloud, devices, and IoT is bringing forth unique cyber-security challenges and security vulnerabilities posed by sophisticated threat actors. The recent sequence of ransomware attacks – WannaCry and Judy followed by Petya have all brought to fore, the vulnerabilities of the system to the ever increasing threat of Malware. The biggest vulnerability of all is the Web Browser – the only application on your desktop that regularly downloads and executes code from both trusted and untrusted networks.

Web Browser- the growing threat vector

As cyber criminals continue to develop sophisticated techniques and learn to adapt faster, web-based attacks are not only becoming a day-to-day norm, but have become further complex and advanced in terms of the scale and magnitude. Over 80% malware attacks happen through the browser, making it the primary attack vector.  Hackers are exploiting the inherent vulnerabilities associated with browser code and plug-ins for launching virulent strains of APTs, drive-by malware, polymorphic threats, and various zero-day attacks. Irrespective of if one is a large or small enterprise, a compromised browser can bring the organization to a complete standstill.

Limitations of detection based technologies

Web-based attacks which originate from the internet rely on either e-mail based “phishing” techniques or even more dangerous “drive-by downloads” mechanism to hack into systems leading to data breaches and hampering business continuity. The conventional detection based technologies like secure web gateways (SWGs), firewalls, signature-based malware scanning are unable to contain and prevent such advanced web-based attacks.

It is near impossible to block all attacks through detection based technologies that have inherent limitations and cannot guarantee complete protection against advanced sophisticated cyber-attacks of the digital era.  The need is to focus on

innovative approaches that can completely eliminate the “window of vulnerability” faced by organizations and transition from malware detection – which can never be 100% accurate – to malware isolation.

Isolation Technology is the future

While enterprises today have a solid security foundation in place, the fortification and security fabric remains exposed and vulnerable, thanks to the Web Browser remaining vulnerable. This is where isolation technology comes in and gives an opportunity to the enterprise users to experience complete web freedom. All external web content – whether it is from trusted or untrusted websites – should be isolated and rendered outside of the network, and never be allowed to access endpoint devices.

How Isolation Technology Works Against Cyber Threats

Isolation Technology creates a secure execution environment between users and the web. It executes the browser instance outside of the firewall and thus all code, including potentially malicious content is executed remotely, and only a safe harmless pixel is sent to the user’s endpoint. This network isolation strategy effectively helps eliminate the web browser as the primary vector for cyber-attacks on businesses. Seamless to the end user, the technology helps to keep suspicious documents in a contained ‘isolated’ environment, preventing malware from executing. Working in tandem with existing security measures, isolation technology is an effective endpoint security strategy.

Based on the concept of creating an ‘air-gap’ between the web and users, Isolation technology helps to eliminate the possibility of cyber threats reaching devices and endpoints. Newer innovations being developed today allow enterprises to integrate this technology with web gateways without requiring any endpoint installation. All web requests can be directed to the isolation platform which executes and renders web sessions remotely in a secure environment on behalf of its users, and only a safe visual stream is sent to users’ browsers. According to recent research by Gartner, Inc., attackers mostly target end-users by serving malicious content that leverage browser vulnerabilities. However, with isolation, because all content is executed away from endpoints, users are completely protected from malicious websites. It provides a dual advantage to its users:

  • Protection from the most advanced web-borne threats by isolating all web content outside the network perimeter

  • Elimination of risk of drive-by downloads, malvertising, advanced phishing attacks and virtually all malware originating from the Web

What this means for enterprises is that their employees will have more freedom to access websites and documents without the risk of infection from an accidental click on a malicious link. Another advantage is that CIOs won’t need to deal with the overhead that comes with traditional web gateways and spend time on unnecessary investigations.

Isolation – the true panacea to malware

We already see a surge in the acceptance of what isolation technology within enterprises can do. Gartner,Inc. has already recognized Isolation as one of the top 10 technologies in Information Security. And further per the predictions of Gartner, Inc. 50% of enterprises will have their browsers protected through Isolation technology by 2021. We can, therefore, expect Isolation platforms to continue to evolve and eventually replace traditional web gateways. Isolation technology is already seeing accelerated adoption. CIOs and CISOs will augur well for their enterprises by adopting Isolation technology for their browsers, faster than later.

Authored by Samir Shah, CEO, Cyberinc – An Aurionpro Company and is based in San Francisco, USA.

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