Solving The Big Problems In Browser Isolation

Written by Guise Bule, Editor at Secjuice

Browsers Isolation Problems

Anyone can physically isolate their browsing activity using some sort of virtualization technology, but the trick is to do it at vast scale for millions of simultaneous users and make it cost effective by bringing the price down to low single digit dollars per user.

People sometimes ask me how WEBGAP is different from our competitors and I tell them that we are trying to solve the big problems in browser isolation, whereas our competitors are mostly unaware of the big problems ahead. The problem with the browser isolation space is that, on the surface, everyone has already solved the problem and most solutions look pretty much the same from an end user perspective.

It is fair to say that everyone in the space has solved the 'obvious problem', the problem of isolating your browser and the associated cyber risks away from your infrastructure, but most of our competitors then go on to ignore the bigger problems and begin signing up new users without much thought to the future. It's only when they get past the 100k user mark do they start noticing these bigger problems. Because the team behind WEBGAP have been isolating browsers for longer than most, we see further than most and have already made most of the mistakes our competitors are now making. When we built WEBGAP, we built it with these big problems in mind, taking a long term view of the market and its potential size.

The big problems in browser isolation are cost and scale. A browser isolation technology has to solve these problems and be able to accommodate millions of simultaneous users in a cost-effective way in order to meet the market requirements.

The first big problem in browser isolation is scale. Our potential user base is not 5k users, or even 10k users, its 100 million users in the US workplace alone and any browser solution has to be able to scale to accommodate at least one million simultaneous users in order to be viable. A fit for purpose browser isolation solution has to be able to easily scale to accommodate massive amounts of users without giving your infrastructure team a brain hemorrhage or filling your datacenter with thousands of servers.

We solved this problem by moving away from having a SAN centralized infrastructure, unlike our competitors who are built on top of SAN centralized infrastructures, we leverage a distributed network and infrastructure model, WEBGAP scales out, rather than scales up. To add more capacity, you simply stretch cluster more server resources in and the resources are distributed across the network, this makes WEBGAP massively scalable, with no single point of failure and enables high availability across our network at scale.

The second big problem in browser isolation is cost. Organizations can adopt any number of browser isolation solutions, but the problem with most of them is that they can get incredibly expensive at any sort of scale, typically costing between $15-$50 per user (per month), making these solutions prohibitively expensive for anyone without a significant cybersecurity budget. Most organizations do not have significant budgets, making browser isolation mostly for the few rather than the many.

We solved this problem by moving away from virtualization platforms we had built in the past and towards containerization. Virtualization is not fit for purpose as a browser isolation solution, it is not the right vehicle for handling the browser compute load at scale, making virtualization based platforms costly and inefficient compared to containerized platforms. By adopting a completely containerized architecture, we massively reduced our resource overhead and we need approximately 10x less server resource than our virtualization based competitors, translating into huge cost savings across over the long term.

Through a combination of containerization and a distributed architecture, WEBGAP has managed to solve the really big problems in remote browser isolation and when it comes to handling the browser compute load of millions of simultaneous internet users, WEBGAP is fit for purpose. By solving these big problems WEBGAP lowers the cost of browser isolation to deliver a solution for the many rather than the few.

The third big problem in browser isolation is that isolation is not enough. This is actually a 'hidden' problem and not many browser isolation vendors talk about it, but their dirty little secret is that isolation alone is not enough. Which is why WEBGAP does not just physically isolate the browser and call it a day, we go a step further to remove potentially malicious code from pages and deliver a purer internet to our users.

WEBGAP requests web pages on behalf of the user, fetches them and then destroys them, before rebuilding them tag-by-tag, element-by-element, stripping out any 'malicious' code (any code the web page does not need to be a fully functional web page)and rebuilding them in real time for display to the end user.

Unlike competitive solutions that display the real (albeit isolated) webpages and their code to end users, WEBGAP displays web pages that have been 'sanitized' beforehand and contain just 18 lines of pure HTML and CSS, rather than the hundreds of lines of code that you would normally find in the original web page. This web page pre-rendering is really what sets WEBGAP apart from its competitors and is what makes WEBGAP a much safer way to use the internet than a basic browser isolation technology.

TL;DR Where our competitors in the remote browser isolation space leverage SAN centralized, virtualization based platforms (what we consider to be a legacy approach), WEBGAP is solving the biggest problems in our space, cost and scale, by building a remote browser isolation platform for the many rather than the few.

We will soon be releasing our browser isolation technology as a standalone piece of software for you to download and install on your own servers. In the meantime if you are looking for a cost-effective remote browser service check out our remote browser platform. We have been delivering remote browsers longer than most and we built the worlds first browser isolation platform for the US federal government.

Get in touch for a conversation with us about browser isolation, we love questions!

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