In an era where data and applications are increasingly moving from traditional data centers to the cloud, organizations are looking for innovative ways to protect against evolving cyber threats. A notable example is Remote Browser Isolation (RBI), a cybersecurity technology that separates internet browsing activity from the local computing environment[^3^].

Understanding Remote Browser Isolation (RBI)

RBI creates an isolated environment in the cloud when users access risky web content, serving a safe, cloud-hosted rendering of the content[^3^]. By offloading web browsing activity to a cloud domain without downloading the content, RBI effectively prevents malware hidden within the content from reaching local endpoints or infiltrating the network[^3^].

This technology provides robust protection against known and unknown threats, supplementing other key cybersecurity functions and forming an integral part of a Zero Trust security architecture[^3^].

Types of Browser Isolation

There are three main types of browser isolation technology:

  1. Remote Browser Isolation (RBI): Runs in a cloud-hosted sandbox—an isolated environment separate from an organization’s internal environment[^3^].
  2. On-Premises Browser Isolation: Works similarly to RBI, but it’s hosted as part of an organization’s internal IT environment[^3^].
  3. Client-Side/Local Browser Isolation: Operates on a user’s endpoint in a virtualized sandbox, erasing browsing data after sessions[^3^].

These isolation techniques offer different levels of protection, with each having its specific use cases and challenges[^3^].

The Importance of Browser Isolation

Browser isolation is becoming increasingly vital as employees often stay connected to the internet for most of their working hours[^3^]. While this connectivity can boost productivity, it also introduces various risks.

Cyberattacks like phishing acquire targets through a user’s web browser, delivering malvertising (malicious ads), clickbait leading to malicious content, browser-based trojans, and more[^3^]. Simply put, connecting to a site can provide cybercriminals with a gateway into a user’s machine, and ultimately, an organization’s network[^3^].

Traditional security measures such as firewalls or allowlists can attempt to mitigate these threats, but they are not designed for today’s open internet and cloud-based activities[^3^]. They also struggle to account for unknown threats and often limit user access, which can affect productivity[^3^].

That’s where RBI technology comes into play. RBI ensures that cyber threats such as ransomware and other forms of malware cannot infiltrate your network through compromised webpages[^3^].

Benefits and Challenges of Remote Browser Isolation

RBI offers several benefits:

  • It secures access to risky web content by delivering a safe rendering of web content without requiring an endpoint agent on every device[^3^].
  • It protects sensitive data from targeted attacks hidden in web pages, downloadable web content, and vulnerable plugins[^3^].
  • It prevents data exfiltration by ensuring that webpages cannot compromise endpoints even if the browser contains vulnerabilities or has unsafe plugins installed[^3^].
  • It allows more open internet policies, reducing policy complexity, and minimizing risk while giving users more freedom during web browsing[^3^].

However, RBI solutions also face challenges, including high latency, high bandwidth consumption, and significant costs[^3^]. These challenges are particularly evident when handling a high volume of browsing sessions and streaming these sessions to users[^3^].

RBI in a Zero Trust Security Architecture

Zero Trust security models operate on the premise that all network and user activity should be untrusted by default[^3^]. RBI can be a key component of a Zero Trust security approach, helping to separate users from sessions and prevent accidental and malicious data leakage[^3^].

RBI solutions like Zscaler’s Cloud Browser Isolation, part of the Zero Trust Exchange™, isolate users and endpoints from all active web content[^3^]. As a result, they provide robust protection from zero-day vulnerabilities, ransomware, and other sophisticated threats[^3^].

RBI solutions have the potential to make web-based attacks and data loss a thing of the past[^3^]. Whether implemented in-house or through a vendor, their goal is to protect users from threats without compromising their browsing experience.

If you’re considering RBI for your organization, it’s essential to evaluate different solutions based on their effectiveness, ease of implementation, cost, and the extent to which they can integrate with your existing security infrastructure.