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Dell sandboxes Firefox to boost corporate security

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Dell has applied application virtualisation technology to Firefox in order to offer corporates what it claims is a more secure browsing experience.

The Dell KACE Secure Browser, which is available for download at no charge from Tuesday, aims to boost enterprise security while introducing businesses to the PC maker's recently acquired systems management appliance division. The technology provides users with a virtual instance of an internet browser application, thereby reducing exposure to drive-by malware attacks from websites hosting malicious code, an increasingly common tactic for malware distribution.

"By running the browser in a virtual instance, the browser and any activity resulting from its use are separated from the endpoint keeping the actual computer and operating system free of changes that would normally occur," Dell KACE explains.

The Secure Browser can be centrally deployed and managed via Dell KACE's K1000 Management Appliance. The unit intends to deliver an Internet Explorer version of the technology later this year.

Browser security (AKA transaction security) add-ons from the likes of Trusteer, PrevX and others have become a hot spot in the information security market over recent months. The technology has flourished as incidents of the compromise of legitimate websites and the sophistication of banking Trojans have grown. Trusteer offers its Rapport technology to consumers via banking partners, including HSBC, NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Dell KACE argues its sandboxing approach to defend against similar web-based malware threats offers significant benefits.

"Trusteer takes the approach of trying to sense when malware is trying to corrupt the browser and stop unauthorised changes, a spokesman explained. "KACE does not try to keep the browser from being changed, but rather keeps any changes isolated to a sandbox, and then lets you easily reset the sandbox back to a clean slate.

"One advantage of KACE’s approach is that it protects you from both known and unknown attacks and vulnerabilities because we are not trying to plug holes in the browser, but rather just keep it from affecting the rest of the system by 'isolating' it in a container."

In other browser-related security news, on-demand IT security risk firm Qualys launched a free browser security testing service on Monday. The Qualys BrowserCheck service, available here, scans web browsers for security flaws within either the browser itself or its plug-ins. The technology supports IE 6.0 and later, Firefox 3.0 and Chrome 4.0 and above as well as popular third-party plugins (Adobe Flash, Shockwave, Sun Java, Microsoft Windows Media Player etc).

Qualys BrowserCheck is aimed at both corporates and consumers. Security notification firm Secunia already offers similar browser checking technology to consumers at no charge and as a paid service as part of a comprehensive application security scanning service to businesses. ®

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