Browser Is the Weakest Link in Your Online Protection
Despite the titanic efforts of tech companies to make their browsers secure, they have desperately failed to do so. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome remain the most dangerous intermediaries in users’ online protection. To some extent, a large number of users are hopelessly illiterate about online safety, and can’t help visiting malicious websites, clicking on dubious links in their emails, and their browsers are eager to let them wander in dangerous places. A small fraction of malicious code penetrates your browser and into your computer, and then makes its way to your email, online banking accounts, and the next thing you know your accounts have been hijacked, and your money stolen.
Brandon Spikes claims he invented the safe browser that will allow people give in to their temptation to explore and still remain safe online. Brandon is a highly sophisticated security and tech wizard; he was working alongside Elon Musk on a number of high-profile ventures, such as Space X and PayPal. During his work at Space X, Spikes was challenged by the need to protect information that the US government rated as national secrets and the Chinese government rated as files of interest. While Spikes was dealing with the never-ending attacks on the Space X networks, he started to generate the ideas to create new security techniques that would be employed by corporations.
Spikes Security was founded in 2012, and the company officially came out of the testing mode last week with a new browser technology named AirGap. The main principle here is that instead of opening a browser directly on your mobile device, laptop or PC, you run it inside the distant Spikes Security data center. The browser software is kept on the company’s servers, and what basically happens when you browse like this is that you get a video streaming of what you do in a secure browser. As a result, anything malicious that you might click on cannot physically impact your computer because the physical browser software is running on a remote and secured computer. “The webpage gets built in the cloud, and you sort of watch a movie of that,” says Spikes. “You have total isolation from any malware.”
The limitations in bandwidth and technology of compression used to make it difficult to realize this sort of approach. Corporate networks wouldn’t be able to handle the process of sending video streams to multiple computers on their networks. Nevertheless, nowadays, this is no longer a problem since clever file compression technologies have been invented, allowing companies, such as OnLive stream videos to people’s homes. Spikes Security adopts the same approach.
AirGap browser functions smoothly and flawlessly – there is no apparent lag when the pages load if you compare it to other browsers. But the most important is the sense of freedom and invulnerability that appears when you realize that nothing can affect your computer, even if you go to obviously dangerous websites.
At the moment, Spikes Security targets corporate customers in pharmaceutical, aerospace, film and finance industries, and Spikes says the perspectives are great, and a lot of clients show interest. The customers can choose to run the AirGap browser in their own data centers, or else funnel the traffic through the Spikes Security data center. Spikes claims they have raised more than $2 million and are in the process of aggregating some more funding for further development. The AirGap browser is the first of its kind and the end product is going to be a security suite for large corporations.
“We don’t plan on doing a consumer browser, but one of our customers, like a carrier, might. They could purchase it and offer it to their customers. It would help them reduce malware on their networks,” says spikes.
So, what can regular users do in the meantime? We will cover secure browsing in sandbox next week, so if you are still unfamiliar with the topic, subscribe to our news feed on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.