GCN LAB REVIEWS
Make your browser invincible
- By John Breeden II
- Jun 06, 2012
For some people, telecommuting is a great way to be more productive. On the other hand, you are often alone in terms of IT support. Not only do you have to set up your own office, but you may have to maintain your own systems and security. And given all the security threats today, it may feel like it’s you against the world.
But what if an agency could provide protection to all its workers, whether they were in the office or had taken their laptops home? The Invincea browser can be a lone sentinel in the employees' corner. It offers the same type of virtual machine, malware-trapping power we’ve seen in programs that operate across entire agencies, but it can be harnessed for use within each computer, with no need to be connected to the network. Invincea is installed by being pushed out to users. But once that happens, it runs independently on a system and never again has to connect back into the host network.
Invincea Enterprise Edition
Ease of Use: B
Price: $36 per seat for 500 browsers, $71,000 for threat data server.
Pros: Can protect users from malware when browsing; shows exact paths infection tried to take.
Cons: Configuration controls for administrators are a little difficult to use; no individual user option available yet.
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When a user launches his or her browser of choice — Explorer, Firefox or Chrome — the request is instead directed to the Invincea browser, unless the website being opened is on a list of trusted sites. The first time Invincea runs, it will let you bring over bookmarks and files from the original browser. In fact, your browser won’t look very much different at all really. All the buttons and bars you would expect to see are there and in the correct order. It’s really the same browser, but running within the Invincea virtual environment.
Once you're in the Invincea environment, nothing that is brought into your system via the browser is actually allowed to move to your real files until it’s been monitored by the program. It does not look for signatures, which would need to be constantly updated. Instead it scans for patterns that viruses and malware exploit. So if a Web page is forcing you to download something or a data file is actually making system calls, Invincea monitors that behavior.
The malware or suspected malware itself does not know that it’s actually operating within a virtual environment. Invincea will alert users that something funny is going on, and they can either wait while the malware tries to do its thing or immediately restore everything to a pristine, non-threatened state.
The advantage to letting the malicious program run is that every action it tries to take is logged. And if an agency has purchased the Threat Data Server, then up to 10 IT professionals can analyze that data with the professional version of the program, and they will instantly know if the agency is under a specific threat — spear phishing, for instance.
Invincea costs $36 per seat for 500 users, which is a great price for locking down browsers. However, it costs an additional $71,000 to add the Threat Data Server, which comes with 10 licenses for agency IT professionals who will will analyze the threats.
We think the Threat Data Server is expensive given that the 500 browser instances will run just $18,000. Technically, an agency could just purchase the browsers. However, without a server component, the browsers would not have anywhere to report their findings. So it might be better simply to increase the license costs a bit more (although not quite $71,000 worth of increase) and sell it as one package.
While the end user should have little trouble working with their same old browser in a new environment, configuring Invincea from the administrator side is more complicated. Adding a trusted site for our demo required us to modify configuration files within the Invincea program folders. It’s not that much of a problem, but it’s not a perfect graphical user interface either.
We think this would be a great program for single users working at home to protect their personal desktops even if they never come into the office. Unfortunately, there are no individual price options just yet. Invincea says to expect something along those lines soon, so users who can’t convince their agencies to purchase the entire package may still be able to protect themselves on their own shortly.
For agencies whose employees do a lot of work on the Web, locking down browsers without requiring constant monitoring, network connectivity or signature update pushes is a no-brainer. Deploy Invincea once and then let the individual computers take care of themselves, whether they are in the office, at home or on the road. The only time they would need to report in to IT is after trapping a malware infection.
Invincea is a shield that should not be left behind when working in today's online wilderness.
Invincea, Inc., www.invincea.com