Symantec Acquires Browser Isolation Vendor Fireglass

The promise of Fireglass' technology is to help reduce the attack surface across endpoints for web and email security.


Symantec announced on July 6 that it is acquiring privately-held browser security isolation vendor Fireglass. Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed. Fireglass raised $20 million in Series A venture funding in January 2016 from investors including Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Singtel Innov8.

"Stopping malware is why we're here and this technology from Fireglass has a very serious impact on stopping malware,"Greg Clark, CEO of Symantec, told eWEEK. "We are very encouraged by the potential of browser isolation."

Fireglass' core technology is a browser isolation platform that enables users to browse the web in a highly-secure manner. Clark said that when organizations are able to isolate uncategorized websites, unknown links and email attachments, there is a significant reduction in the attack surface.

The concept of browser isolation is not unique to Fireglass and there are multiple competitive vendors in the market including Menlo Security and Authentic8 that offer similar approaches. Clark said that he was impressed with the big customers that Fireglass had already attracted, especially among large financial services organizations. Symantec also tried out Fireglass' technology in it own environment to see how it worked and performed. Clark said that he was particularly impressed with the ease of deployment of Fireglass.

"The profound impact that Fireglass has on the attack surface is important," Clark said. 

From a Symantec product portfolio perspective, Clark sees the Fireglass technology as being complementary with his company's existing email and web security offerings.  He added that Fireglass' technology essentially provides organizations with a browser in the cloud, which can help with keeping connections encrypted. Among the many technologies in the Symantec portfolio is the ProxySG secure web gateway, that came to the company through the Blue Coat acquisition in June 2016.  Clark explained that the ProxySG works as a protocol based proxy that can work together with browser isolation to provide enhanced security.

The idea of isolation is one that isn't limited to the browser-space either and can apply in different contexts across an enterprise.  Clark noted that there are all kinds of different uses for isolation with technologies like Docker containers that are found in the server side of the cloud and endpoint containers that can provide desktop isolation. Those approaches are both different than what the Fireglass browser isolation provides.

"This (Fireglass) is a protection using network isolation, to protect against things users are consuming on email and the web," Clark said. "If you think about the heterogeneity of corporate endpoints with Android, IOS, Windows and macOS, each of those has a different isolation architecture."

"When dealing with email and web, browser isolation allows organizations to bring a common protection point to the different types of endpoints and reduce the attack surface for all of them," Clark added.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

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