Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Check Point Offers Consumers 'New Level' of Security

'Browser virtualization' sandboxes OS, constitutes new category of products, firewall giant says

OK, the name isn't as catchy as "firewall." But Check Point Technologies says "browser virtualization" could be the next hot security technology for the consumer market.

Check Point, which helped popularize the firewall a decade ago, yesterday introduced ZoneAlarm Forcefield, a browser tool and service that creates a mirror environment -- sometimes called a "sandbox" -- where users can surf safely without fear that their systems will be permanently damaged by hackers or malware.

ForceField is Check Point's implementation of the browser virtualization concept, in which all of the operating system elements that interface with the browser -- including the registry -- are duplicated during a Web session. If malware or some other infection is introduced, they interact only with the duplicate, leaving the core operating system unharmed.

"It's sort of like a stunt double that you see in the movies," says Laura Yecies, vice president and general manager of Check Point's ZoneAlarm consumer division. "The duplicate takes all the risks, and your most valuable assets stay safe."

While users are in the "sandbox," ForceField also protects them with a range of security tools, including anti-phishing tools, spyware site blocking, site ratings, download scanning, keylogger jamming, temporary file encryption, and a "private browser" mode that prevents others from viewing a user's online activities.

The idea is to provide security without changing the user's browsing experience any more than necessary," Yecies says. "We're transparent wherever we can be, except when the user is about to do something dangerous. Then the red lights go off."

The idea of browser virtualization has been around for years, most notably in the technology developed by GreenBorders, a startup acquired by Google last year. ForceField picks up the flag left by GreenBorders, which so far has not had the broad impact that was expected by observers following the Google buyout.

Analysts generally regard browser virtualization as a positive step toward endpoint security, but they acknowledge that it needs work. "The problem with Web browsers is that they are designed to run anything, from anywhere," says Rich Mogull, principal and founder of Securosis Inc., a security consultancy. "Browser virtualization is a start at creating some better security boundaries, but generic tools will always struggle with the basic model of the Web."

"What's more interesting is session virtualization, where your bank, online shopping site, or other Web application can wall itself off in the browser to protect against [cross-site request forgery] and other attacks," Mogull adds.

ZoneAlarm ForceField is available now for $29.95 for a single user. A family pack (three users) is $49.95; users can also purchase ForceField bundled with other Check Point security products for $69.95.

Check Point plans to offer the product to consumers for some time before rolling out an enterprise version. "That's the way we usually roll out our products," Yecies says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP)
  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

    Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    Ransomware Is Not the Problem
    Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
    How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
    John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
    New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
    Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Cartoon Contest
    Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
    Latest Comment: Google's new See No Evil policy......
    Current Issue
    The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
    In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-20
    The Quiz And Survey Master – Best Quiz, Exam and Survey Plugin WordPress plugin before 7.1.18 did not sanitise or escape its result_id parameter when displaying an existing quiz result page, leading to a reflected Cross-Site Scripting issue. This c...
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    RIOT-OS 2021.01 before commit 44741ff99f7a71df45420635b238b9c22093647a contains a buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    SerenityOS contains a buffer overflow in the set_range test in TestBitmap which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    SerenityOS in test-crypto.cpp contains a stack buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    SerenityOS before commit 3844e8569689dd476064a0759d704bc64fb3ca2c contains a directory traversal vulnerability in tar/unzip that may lead to command execution or privilege escalation.