A cloud browser is a cloud-based combination of a web browser application with a virtualized container that implements the concept of remote browser isolation. Commands from the web are executed in a secure container, separate from the user endpoint, and accessed by the remote display protocol. By placing a browser application in the cloud, it becomes more centralized, manageable, cost effective, scalable and protected.
To open a cloud browser, a user will connect to the cloud service provider by launching an installed application or a browser-based portal and initiating a browser session. Once authorized, all access to the web is hosted in the cloud and controlled by the remote display protocol. This protects the end user's location and digital fingerprint as they browse the internet or access their accounts.
Cloud browsers are popular among information security researchers and professionals in regulated industries such as government, financial, healthcare and legal services. Consumers concerned with lack of security or privacy when browsing may also look into cloud browser applications.
Vendors within the cloud browser space include Authentic8, Citrix Secure Browser, Ericom and Maxthon. Studies conducted by Georgetown University have shown that cloud browsers are more secure and resource efficient than local browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Benefits of cloud browsers
Traditional web browsers are often recognized as insecure and vulnerable, only limiting effectiveness and privacy as new functionality is added. Cloud browsers address these concerns while providing the following added benefits of a cloud service:
- Enhanced security: Due to the fact that no executable web code ever reaches the user endpoint, pieces of malicious code and potential threats are blocked.
- Better privacy: Unlike traditional web browsers, cloud browsers protect a user's digital identity and location during each session by passing information through a cloud-based data center.
- Implemented cloud service benefits: Similar to other cloud services, cloud browser providers will manage the maintenance, scalability and capacity. This gives administrators a single point of command and control.
- Reduced need for point solutions: Browsing within the cloud minimizes the necessity of added functionality such as content filtering, data loss protection (DLP), SSL inspection, endpoint security protection, domain name system (DNS) services, firewalls and VPNs.