With cybersecurity threats and data breaches dominating news cycles, users are looking for tools and services that will protect their data and their devices. This is especially true of their web and mobile browsers, which serve as the main portal to the internet — and unfortunately, to the risks and dangers contained within.
Internet browsers come pre-installed on most computers and phones — the two most frequently used consumer devices. And yet, of all the software out there, browsers are the most exposed and information-rich. If someone manages to gain access to a user’s browser, the offender can find out just about anything: address, credit card data, emails, passwords, browsing history, bookmarks, etc.
This isn’t lost on cybercriminals: 44 percent of exploit attacks in Q1 2017 targeted browsers.
There is an increasing threat from software attacks that takes advantage of vulnerable web browsers, which are often much less secure than users think. Recent tests have found that Chrome, Mozilla, Edge, and especially Safari, still have a number of code vulnerabilities — just through their Document Object Model (DOM) engines. Exploiting vulnerabilities in browsers has become a popular way for attackers to compromise computer systems.
The dawn of HTTPS in 1995 was one of the major efforts to bring security and privacy to the internet and protect users. HTTPS made it significantly more difficult for ISPs, government agencies or malicious attackers to see what information users are reading or posting on the web. And yet, today, of the 1 million most popular websites on the internet (according to Alexa), less than 30 percent of those are secured with HTTPS. That means that over two-thirds of the websites most visited by users aren’t secure or private. And malicious attackers are constantly trying to exploit such vulnerable websites in order to compromise users’ browsers.
To address these issues, browsers need to think differently in order to protect their users. Some, like Chrome, attempt to be very open and actively flag websites that have an unsecure connection. However this method doesn’t work if the HTTPS security certificates themselves are incorrect. Many times, browser providers take these security certificates at face value with no investigation on their own. Chrome’s security certificates issued by Symantec have come under fire recently for this very reason.
But by using the capabilities of the cloud, other browsers can go much further to protect and secure their users. Cloud-based browsers like Maxthon, Silo and Puffin focus on insulating users from websites entirely — keeping them at arm’s distance from the internet. By outsourcing website processing to data centers, cloud browsers enable the device to simply be a mirror of the content running on remote servers.
Such a browsing method ensures that if a site’s security certificate doesn’t match the one the browser provider has on file, the connection can be immediately dropped. This easily protects users from faulty security certificates flagged through by a government or carrier.
Additionally, since all of the processing happens remotely, it provides another layer to keep users safer from cyberattacks. On such browsers, all website traffic can be handled and filtered through unique, encrypted connections as it goes from the cloud to the personal device. This can be an incredible safeguard when trying to use the internet in public. No Wi-Fi is safe from potentially going rogue — particularly public Wi-Fi. Even a home or office network can be accessed and breached by attacks, leaving all users on that network vulnerable.
Some cloud-based browsers improve upon this security by utilizing exclusive sessions for each connected client. Once the client is disconnected, the session is completely deleted. This means that malicious attackers wanting to hit the server to gain access to user information will be disappointed on two fronts — not only will they be unable to get to the user’s mobile device, but they will also find that the server they’ve landed in doesn’t even have data to take. No vulnerabilities can directly strike at a user because they aren’t directly online in the first place.
Considering the great deal of danger involved in browsing the web insecurely, users need to take every step available to protect themselves. And for many, the best protection can only be found through a browser that leverages the privacy and security advantages of the cloud.
President & CEO