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The Case for Targeted Remote Browser Isolation with Next Gen SWG

Jan 13 2021

Remote browser isolation (RBI) has many use cases, but has found a popular use case with secure web gateways (SWG). While SWGs can block known bad websites and allow known good ones, the gray area of uncategorized and security risk websites is a challenge for most SWG deployments. If you allow them, your inline defenses and endpoints are exposed and may miss evasive malware, macros, malicious scripts, and phishing attacks. If you block them, some job functions may require access to these websites, and fully allowing them opens Pandora’s box of threats for these users. However, there is a safer alternative to allow these high-risk websites while blocking file downloads, uploads, and form POSTs, and preventing web threats, malware, malicious scripts, and phishing attacks. This is known as targeted RBI. 

Targeted RBI renders uncategorized and security risk websites into pixel streamed media to users while removing active scripts and any potential web threats. In general, uncategorized and security risk websites cover about 6-8% of web requests. SWGs can proxy chain high-risk websites and desired custom URLs to RBI servers and pixel render them for safe delivery to users, who can view and interact via gestures. Targeted RBI sorts websites in three ways: block the known bad, allow the known good, and RBI pixel render the high-risk websites with no code or scripts executing on endpoint devices. 

The key benefit of targeted RBI is to block file uploads and downloads to uncategorized and security risk websites, plus block any form POSTs often associated with phishing attacks to collect access credentials. By preventing file activity you do not need extra threat protection or data loss prevention defenses on the RBI server itself. Removing this requirement for additional defenses makes targeted RBI a very clean use case with SWGs and easy to deploy.  

RBI in general does have multiple modes of rendering websites including pixel rendering, streaming media, and newer DOM-based rendering options. The latter two modes apply to medium or low-risk websites for broader use cases if you are using RBI beyond targeting high-risk websites with pixel rendering. You may also be asking, “What if the website has video content? Does this impact the user experience if pixel rendering is applied?” For uncategorized and security risk websites using targeted RBI, videos would get pixel rendered with an acceptable user experience, although using more bandwidth. Given targeted RBI only isolates high-risk websites the overall impact is minimal.

Netskope provides targeted RBI powered by Ericom Shield for its Next Gen SWG solutions in a seamless configuration that includes Netskope licensing and support. As an optional add-on to Next Gen SWG packages, targeted RBI can address the gray area of uncategorized and security risk websites beyond the standard and advanced threat protection defenses. Current or prospective Netskope Next Gen SWG customers are encouraged to consider adding targeted RBI, especially for users with job functions that require access to uncategorized or security risk websites.

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Tom Clare
Tom Clare is a Product Marketing Director, his focus at Netskope centers on product strategy with marketing experience in web/cloud proxies, data and threat protection, behavior analytics, network traffic analysis, endpoint protection, endpoint detection and response, deception, and firewalls.