What is an Enterprise Browser?
An enterprise browser is a dedicated organizational browser that is controlled and managed by the enterprise. It is intended for use in a business setting, i.e for employees’ work-related browsing activities. The enterprise browser provides enhanced security features compared to browsing with no security controls in place. These include secure browsing, preventing threats, authentication capabilities and SaaS visibility.
Enterprise browsers are one type of browser security solutions. While they address issues like remote workforce support and provide some security coverage, enterprise browsers have some drawbacks compared to other browser security platforms. More specifically, security protection and vulnerability mitigation are not as advanced as alternative solutions, deployment and usage friction is high and they incur vendor lock. Therefore, while it is recommended to employ a browser security solution, security teams should make sure they choose the right platform type for their needs.
See more at the “Enterprise Browser Alternatives“ section.
What are the Benefits of Enterprise Browsers?
Enterprise browsers provide multiple benefits to businesses. When security professionals need to justify budgets for a browser security platform, they can explain that enterprise browsers can help enterprises improve their security, productivity and compliance. More specifically, the benefits they provide include:
- Enhanced security – Advanced security features like authentication and encryption (to a certain extent). Note that enterprise browsers aren’t as secure as commercial browsers, which provide near zero-time vulnerability patching, are securely coded to prevent threats and are constantly updated.
- Visibility – Visibility into employees’ devices, to see which actions they took, information about their systems, OSs, and more.
- Modification – of functionalities like web rendering.
- Compliance – They can support the enterprise’s adherence to regulations and guidelines to help organizations achieve compliance.
How Does an Enterprise Browser Work?
Today’s workforce relies on the public Internet, SaaS applications and on-premises resources to perform their day-to-day responsibilities. Enterprise browsers provide employees with a means to browse these resources: the web, SaaS apps and corporate resources. When an employee attempts to access a certain resource, predetermined policies that were put in place by IT, are enforced. These policies decide whether the resource can be accessed and which actions can be taken. For example, a policy might enable viewing a CRM but prohibit copying data from it. These policies can be deployed based on security principles like least-privilege. Enforcing these policies is the way to minimize the attack surface and restrict access to critical data.
Browsing activities can be monitored by security teams, who can also see into employees’ devices. These capabilities are enabled only when employees browse from the dedicated browser. When employees browse from commercial browsers, security teams cannot see their actions or enforce policies.
In addition, enterprise browsers can isolate web traffic to detect and block malware and threats, prevent files from being shared and block domains and websites that are malicious and could result in injected malware or be part of a phishing scheme.
The enterprise browser can be branded to improve the employee experience and increase loyalty.
Challenges When Using Enterprise Browsers
Despite the aforementioned benefits, enterprise browsers create security and operational obstacles that enhance the attack surface and result in IT and security overhead. That is why some IT and security teams might choose to employ a different browser security solution. These challenges include:
- User experience friction – Users are required to transition from familiar browsers that they know and love to a new one and use it every time they perform work-related activities. This requires them to change their established habits and develop new daily workflows. In addition to the process being cumbersome, enforcing it also creates friction and resentment between departments.
- Limited security and usage capabilities – While enterprise browsers provide some advanced security features, they usually do not stay as updated as commercial browsers. Commercial browsers employ near zero time security patching and threat detection, which enterprise browsers have to add each time a threat is detected. The same goes for usability, as commercial browsers are constantly providing new capabilities and enterprise browsers have to rush to keep up.
- Vendor lock – Using an enterprise browser creates organizational dependency on that one vendor, making it hard for enterprises to maintain flexibility, negotiate contracts and ensure their requirements are met. The process of replacing the enterprise browser with another solution could be a huge hassle and might impede business productivity. It could also incur data loss when transitioning between vendors.
- Longer deployment and onboarding processes – Users and IT need to become accustomed to the new browser, compared to a commercial browser, which they are already familiar with. This requires training, changing habits and rebuilding of processes. Then, they need to enforce its usage, which is also time-consuming and annoying.
- Web compatibility issues – Browser modifications can lead to lack of web compatibility, i.e harm employees’ ability to perform work-related actions.
Enterprise Browser Alternatives
There are two main browser security alternatives in the market today: browser security platforms that are extension-based and browser isolation platforms.
Browser Security Platforms (Extension-based) are modern browser security solutions for the enterprise. With browser security platforms, employees keep using any browser they already know and love while a lightweight extension that secures browsing activities. The browser security platform mitigates threats, provides SaaS visibility, maps identities and authenticates.
As a result, a browser security platform hardly impacts performance or the user experience, can be seamlessly deployed, protects user privacy and is readily available for use. Most importantly, users can enjoy the security features built in commercial browsers, like near zero-time vulnerability patching.
Browser isolation platforms are also in the market but they are considered less advanced solutions. To protect from threats, they isolate browsing processes in virtual environments or manipulate browser performance in real-time. This isolation contains attacks and prevents exploits by executing code remotely and preventing downloaded malware from direct engagement with the user’s OS and file systems.
As a result, a browser isolation platform will enhance robustness, but at the price of a poor user experience and lack of protection for certain use cases.
Here’s how the three types of browser security solutions compare:
Browser Security Platforms (Extension-based) vs. Enterprise Browsers vs. Browser Isolation
Browser Security Platform
|Security Blind Spots||
|Commercial Browser Capabilities||
|Remote Work Support||
What to Look for in a Browser Security Solution
Which browser security solution is a fit for your needs? Different IT and security teams have different use cases and requirements, which will impact their choice. We recommend examining them based on the following criteria:
- Security scope – Ensure protection is comprehensive for all CVEs and zero hour vulnerabilities and that the solution can identify and mitigate them all.
- User experience – Business users tend to shy away from security activities and tools, since they are perceived as productivity blockers. Choose a solution with minimal impact on browser performance and the daily user experience.
- Productivity – Many legacy security solutions dictate a tradeoff between business agility and security. VPNs, for example, create latency. Find a modern security vendor that is aware of the business need and has a product that minimizes the impact on productivity and organizational efficiency.
- Ease of deployment – Harden security threats by encouraging adoption of your browser security solution. To do so, find one that is user-friendly for employees and easily managed for IT/IS teams.
- Vendor neutrality – Security is ever-evolving and so are your business needs and budgets. Don’t lock yourself down to a single vendor. Rather, provide yourself with flexibility for alternating solutions if needed.
- Multiple use cases – Modern enterprises choose security solutions that can support their growth. Figure out your main needs, like global expansion, remote work, productive employees, compliance, etc., and choose a solution that can address them.
- User privacy – Employees are becoming more aware of their privacy and they expect their workplace to respect their personal boundaries. But with browser security, the borders might get blurry. Find a solution that can secure their activities without making them feel personally monitored.
Enterprise Browsers vs. Endpoint and Network Tools
Do you even need browser security? As the browser becomes the prominent workspace in the organization, it is also a key target for attackers. Therefore, security teams must evaluate their current environments and stack to see if their security controls answer their needs.
Many businesses have endpoint and network security solutions in place, like CASB, SWG, or EDR/EPP. But these solutions are limited when it comes to browser security. CASBs secure only sanctioned applications and they are blind to session context. SWGs lack the capability to dynamically detect malicious pages in real time and based on behavior alone. EDRs/EDPs can miss 60% of malware downloads arriving from the browser. Therefore, it is important to implement a solution purpose built for browser security.
Next Steps for Reducing the Browser Attack Surface
To protect the enterprise, security professionals need to protect the browser. The first step is to decide to implement a dedicated browser security solution, for the reasons established above. The second step is to decide which browser security platform to choose. Take into account considerations like protection scope, user experience, budget and vendor lock. Finally, it’s time to evaluate vendors and start a POC. By choosing the best solution type, businesses can protect themselves from malware, phishing attacks, brute force attacks, credential theft, and more.
Enterprise Browsers FAQs
What is an Enterprise Browser?
A dedicated organizational browser that is controlled and managed by the enterprise and intended for work use by employees.
How do Enterprise Browsers compare to other browser security solutions?
Enterprise browsers address the remote workforce and provide some security coverage, but their security protection and vulnerability mitigation capabilities are not as advanced as alternative solutions, deployment and usage friction is high and they incur vendor lock.
Why Does an Enterprise Browser Create Workplace Friction?
Enterprise browsers require employees to transition from familiar browsers to a new one so they need to change their established habits and develop new daily workflows.
Why are Enterprise Browsers Not Secure Enough?
Enterprise browsers are usually not as updated as commercial browsers, which employ near zero time security patching and threat detection.
What are the Top Alternatives for Enterprise Browsers?
There are two main browser security alternatives in the market today: browser security platforms that are extension-based and browser isolation platforms, which are considered less advanced.