In an increasingly digitized world, protecting ourselves and our organizations from cyber threats is more important than ever. One innovative approach to this is Remote Browser Isolation (RBI), a method that separates internet browsing activity from local devices’ processes to bolster cybersecurity.
Understanding Remote Browser Isolation (RBI)
Typically, web browsers load and execute content directly on the user’s local device. This method carries inherent risks due to the content’s potential to come from unverified or malicious sources. To mitigate these risks, RBI technology executes this process remotely, in the cloud, away from local devices[^1^].
Infected or malicious websites are a common vehicle for cybercriminals to deliver malware. RBI provides a layer of protection by eliminating in-browser code execution on the user’s local device[^2^]. Instead, the web page is processed within a browser hosted in the cloud. This browser operates in a sandboxed environment, and after the user’s browsing session ends, the entire environment can be disposed of, eliminating any risks associated with potential malware downloaded during the session[^2^].
Types of Remote Browser Isolation (RBI)
RBI systems are designed to “scrub” a webpage of malicious content before delivering it to the user. A couple of ways this is accomplished include:
Document Object Model (DOM) Mirroring or DOM Reconstruction: This method loads webpages in an isolated environment and rewrites them to remove potential attacks[^1^]. The webpage’s code then loads and executes a second time on the user’s device, but without any potentially harmful third-party code[^1^]. However, this approach does not provide full isolation as the user’s browser still renders some content from the suspicious site[^2^].
Pixel Reconstruction or Pixel Pushing: This approach renders and processes web content on a remote server instead of the user’s device[^1^]. The server then sends a visual representation of the webpage to the user’s device as an interactive image or video stream[^1^]. As a result, the user receives an array of pixels and not the code that generates them, thereby protecting against the potential for malicious code execution within the user’s browser[^2^].
It’s important to note that while these methods offer valuable protections, RBI systems have limitations, including added latency, potential issues with website support, incomplete protection, and expense[^2^].
The Need for Browser Isolation
The reliance on web browsing for day-to-day operations makes businesses susceptible to cyber threats. RBI addresses these vulnerabilities by blocking malicious web content and preventing local downloads or execution of malware, ransomware, and other malicious scripts[^1^].
An essential component of the Zero Trust security model, RBI applies the principle of not trusting any connection request by default. This means that no website code should be trusted to run on devices by default[^1^].
RBI solutions can also defend against more than just malicious web scripts. Other emerging use cases for RBI include insulating users from malware, stopping multi-channel phishing attacks, and managing third-party permissions[^1^]. This makes RBI a critical component of any robust cybersecurity strategy.