With the rise of hybrid work and widespread adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, the way users work and the underlying IT infrastructure to support them has fundamentally changed. Web browsers have become the central place of work for users today, according to Forrester, spending over 75% of their work day inside their web browsers. For this reason, enterprises need to treat the browser as an enterprise asset and start to establish a strong security framework to secure the browser. Some vendors have tried to address this with the introduction of enterprise browsers and extensions but lack the necessary security framework to protect their users and the data. In fact, by 2030 Gartner expects browsers to be tightly integrated with many of the core security products used by enterprises today and claims that browsers will become a platform from which other security and productivity software for the workforce will be deployed, managed and secured.
Securing the browser is vital for any organization looking to protect their hybrid workforce. When evaluating vendors, strong browser security approaches should be able to effectively deliver 3 tenets for success:
The browser serves as a critical tool for both enterprises and personal web use. It is important to implement a Browser Security solution that delivers enterprise level security, enables a seamless user experience and improves IT efficiency.
Within the Enterprise Browser category there are two avenues, Local Browsers and Cloud-Based Browser Security.
Local browser vendors, such as replacement browser, believe that a mission specific, mandated browser can be an option to deliver centrally managed browsers and application access. These dedicated browsers can be Chromium-based with enhanced browser capabilities purpose built for the enterprise environment and remote workforce with limited security scope. They provide centralized management for desktop IT teams, allowing for distribution and updates across the organization. Google Chrome Enterprise and Microsoft Edge Enterprise are two local browser options that deliver these centralized management and reporting capabilities when coupled with their respective management platforms, Chrome Enterprise Manager and Microsoft Intune, respectively. Replacement browsers offer an alternative, limited purpose enterprise browser that claim to address remote access use cases and enabling unmanaged devices. These also claim to support limited access control policies to corporate data while having a limited footprint on the endpoint. Replacement browsers strive to provide visibility into SaaS applications and data being used by employees, claiming to allow IT teams to track, manage, and control access to these applications.
Enterprises also have the option to deliver browser security through the cloud. Cloud-based Browser Security focuses on a prevention approach by implementing control, inspection and visibility before content reaches the target endpoint. This protects organizations from evasive malware, zero-hour phishing, and sophisticated ransomware that is increasingly used to bypass commonly deployed security tools. This preventative strategy routes all web traffic through a cloud-based platform, normally utilizing a cloud browser. Regardless if content is categorized or untrusted, effective cloud-based browser security options treat all content as potentially malicious so that only safe, clean versions of content are delivered to the endpoint. This ensures users are protected regardless of location or device and that performance is not impacted.This preventative approach enables safe browsing for users, secures access to enterprise applications, prevents data loss through generative AI platforms, and provides a more scalable and cost efficient option for legacy web app tools such as VDI replacement. Regardless of the location, browser or device, enterprise wide updates are also automatically updated and managed in the cloud to provide the most up to date security, while meeting the scalability needs and performance for any size organization.
This technology adds functionality to the browser in the form of a browser extension, designed to work with Mainstream Browsers.
RBI is a web solution designed to separate untrusted web content (typically from the internet) from users and their devices.
Securing the browser is a critical first step for safeguarding the anywhere, everywhere workforce. Incorporating the browser within the broader security platform will provide enterprises with enhanced productivity, streamline workflows and help maintain security and compliance while working within a corporate web browsing context.
More enterprises have opted in for cloud-based browser security solutions to help meet the growing demands of today’s remote workforce while ensuring best in class security, workforce productivity and unmanaged device access use cases. While management and centralized reporting are an important aspect of browser security, cloud-based browser security also helps protect users from sophisticated phishing attacks and evasive malware that other browser security approaches fail to provide.
Without visibility and integrated security controls, threat actors have been able to successfully bypass security controls with evasive techniques to infect user systems and enterprise networks. Users can also easily bypass policies simply in place by deploying an additional browser on the workstation, calling into question some of the security claims made by some enterprise browsers or extensions. Furthermore, when devices are compromised, these upstart enterprise browsers at best provide a small hurdle for a competent adversary. Cloud-based browser security solutions allow organizations to effectively manage and secure the browser by using all of Chrome and Edge’s latest and most up-to-date security capabilities, as well as give them an additional level of security across the user’s entire web experience without restricting them to a single set of policies or a single browser.
Cloud-based Browser Security shrinks the browser attack surface by automatically updating the browser in the cloud, meaning the cloud browser is always running the most up-to-date version even if the user’s device is powered off or connecting through a low bandwidth link where pushing large updates is not practical. This ensures that organizations are always protected against zero-hour phishing and evasive malware that other browser security approaches fail to provide. These evolving attacks leverage unprotected web browsers as the attack surface and use unmanaged personal devices for means of authentication. Fortunately, cloud-based browser security uses behavioral analysis to determine in real-time whether a (requested) page is a phishing page. If the page is determined to be malicious, the solution dynamically blocks access or renders the page in Read-only. This preventative approach provides protection while preserving the native browsing experience, making security invisible to the end user.
Lastly, cloud-based Browser Security helps secure applications and data by forcing users to interact with the protected server through the cloud browser. Threat actors have no ability to tamper with the cloud browser or examine the cloud-based browser’s memory because a secure network path is in place providing zero exposure to the underlying operating system running the browser. This provides secure application access and helps limit the exposure of sensitive data to untrusted or potentially compromised endpoints minimizing the risk of data exfiltration.
Solutions like the Menlo Security Secure Enterprise Browser solution have the ability to monitor, analyze and secure each web session across all web destinations, sessions and data exchange. Menlo security is browser agnostic and provides both a clientless and client-based approach to ensure scalability and a seamless user experience for any size organization. All blind spots are eliminated, while providing granular, code-level insights into all the microevents that comprise the assembly and rendering of the web page in our cloud platform, ensuring that malicious content cannot reach the intended victim. Menlo Security also uses real-time behavioral analysis to identify and block any unknown phishing sites or malicious content. This granular visibility and dynamic policy control is leveraged to prevent all web risks and evasive threats from impacting user’s systems and enterprise networks.
To get the full report with more detailed information, please download The CISO's Guide to Enterprise Browsers.