Authentic8 Improves Virtual Web Browser with Web Gateway Integration

Security vendor improves its Silo disposable web browser technology, making it easier for organizations to deploy.

Authentic8 silo web gateway

Authentic8 updated its flagship Silo secure virtual web browser service on April 10, with the ability to integrate into Secure Web Gateway (SWG) technologies. SWG technologies include firewall, proxies and edge gateways that are used to filter and direct user traffic.

Running a secure web browser isn't just about running the latest version of an application on a desktop system. For Authentic8, secure browsing can be enabled via what the company refers to as a disposable browser, which is what the Silo service is all about. 

"A disposable browser gives users access to the internet, but the actual browser resides and executes in a remote host," Scott Petry, co-founder and CEO of Authentic8, told eWEEK. "The end-user client gets a secure, encrypted display of the browser session."

The promise of having a web browser session rendered and encrypted remotely is that it presents less risk of being infected, either by the host operating system, or by a malicious website. The Silo browser is based on Mozilla Firefox and will still render websites to look the same as they would normally, albeit with a more secure delivery mechanism than a desktop application can deliver on its own.

Prior to the new update, a user had to click the Silo browser icon on a desktop, in order to start a browser session. Petry noted that it became apparent over time that changing user behavior to click on the Silo icon, rather than the user just clicking on their regular browser icon, was a bit of a challenge for some users and organizations.

"So what we've done is we've expanded the JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) syntax of our local URL handling capability and we've done integrations with a variety of Secure Web Gateway technologies," Petry said.

Petry explained that Authentic8 built a small web service for the SWG technologies, that helps to trigger a Silo virtual browser session. As such, when a specific URL or policy rule is triggered on the SWG by a user site request, a Silo virtual browser session can in turn be automatically launched on the end-user system.

"With the new update, the user doesn't need to do anything to get a secure virtual web browser," Petry said. "It's up to the administrator to set the policy that defines when there is a need load the secure browser."

With the new update, a SWG can trigger a new Silo browser session, though it still requires a separate window to open on the user's desktop. Looking forward, the plan is for an even more seamless approach for securely delivering content in a browser. Petry said that Authentic8's development teams are now working on a secure browser capability running inside of an existing browser window. He noted that capability is now running in the Authentic8 lab, but hasn't been made available in a product, yet.

"So instead of returning a JSON instruction that opens Silio, instead we'll be returning an encapsulated browser session," Petry said. "It's not an iFrame, or a proxy with filtering, it's actually a JavaScript encapsulation of our proprietary protocol for secure browsing policies and control."

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.