The Enterprise Browser: A Security-Hardened Productivity Platform for the Future of Remote Work
The browser will become a platform from which enterprises can distribute software, collect intelligence, control access, and securely enable remote work.
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A recent interview with Island’s founding team member Brian Kenyon at Black Hat 2023 sheds light on how the enterprise browser is poised to become a powerful platform for secure remote work. Island offers a version of the Chromium open-source browser customized for the needs of enterprises. According to Kenyon, the enterprise browser holds enormous promise as the interface through which companies distribute software, apply access controls, generate usage analytics, and enable productivity.
Kenyon explains that browsers entered the workplace mainly as a portal for personal tasks like online shopping between meetings. Enterprises tried to limit liability by restricting certain sites but otherwise did little to manage browser usage. However, browsers now access critical cloud applications and sensitive corporate data. Despite this shift, employees still use the same consumer products like Chrome and Safari.
Island recognized an opportunity to harden Chromium with enterprise requirements like policy controls, robust identity management, monitoring/logging, and more. The result feels like Chrome to users but gives IT comprehensive management ability. Companies can enforce access rules, provide corporate-approved extensions and tools, and gain visibility into employee browsing habits.
A key use case is securing BYOD and remote work. Employees can safely access internal systems from home devices without VPNs. IT can prevent downloading data or taking screenshots. According to Kenyon, Island reduces the need for expensive virtual desktop infrastructure. Call centers represent another major use case, given the sensitive customer data accessed through browsers.
The enterprise browser offers advantages beyond security. Companies can push corporate bookmarks, apps, and settings to streamline onboarding. Island built productivity enhancements like an expanded clipboard and embedded SSH/RDP clients directly into the browser, avoiding context switching.
Kenyon believes the enterprise browser sits at the intersection of IT operations, security, and employee productivity. It simplifies remote work by distilling critical apps and resources into a single authenticated interface. Companies gain oversight and control without compromising user experience. Island plans to keep expanding the platform with automation, AI integration, and developer-focused capabilities.
The appeal for developers and security professionals is clear. With robust identity management and fine-grained policy controls, the enterprise browser provides a secure work environment. It reduces the burden of virtual desktops and VPNs. Companies can give developers and contractors access to specific tools and resources without reaching into the internal network. At the same time, it offers performance monitoring, built-in CLI access, and other features to boost productivity.
Developer and Security Benefits
Here are a few key ways an enterprise browser like Island helps developers and security professionals:
- Allows secure remote access to internal tools and systems without VPNs: Developers can code from anywhere without full network access.
- Granular access controls for resources: Security teams can restrict devs to only specific apps or environments needed for their role.
- Built-in SSH/RDP for streamlined access to infrastructures like servers and databases: Devs can work natively in the browser instead of switching contexts.
- Robust identity and access management: Single sign-on and multifactor authentication enable secure access.
- Auditing and logging of all user activity: Security teams gain visibility into how employees are accessing data.
- Ability to disable risky extensions: Security can block plugins that may introduce vulnerabilities.
- Performance monitoring tools: Devs can profile site load times and diagnose issues.
- Preventing downloading/copying data: IP and sensitive code are protected.
- Easier provisioning and de-provisioning: Onboarding/offboarding devs are streamlined.
- Code suggestion and collaborative coding tools: Increased dev productivity and collaboration.
In summary, the enterprise browser gives devs secure access to the resources they need while allowing security teams to govern and monitor usage. Built-in tools also improve developers' workflow.
As enterprises evolve their remote work strategies, all signs point to the browser becoming the primary employee interface. With a security-first architecture customized for the enterprise, it is positioned to safely deliver corporate applications and resources to a distributed workforce. Companies like Island are transforming the browser into a versatile productivity platform purpose-built for a cloud-first world.
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