Unless you consider hackers to be supernatural creatures, cybersecurity professionals probably do not discuss mythical beings very often. Surprisingly, studying the habits of some of those monsters can teach us a few things about security. Vampires, for example, have many rules and peculiarities by which they must abide: they are said to be repulsed by garlic, stopped by the cross, petrified by the sun, and can’t cross water. But perhaps the vampire rule most relevant to security is that they cannot enter a building unless invited.
Malware is a lot like vampires that way, and it is part of the reason that browsers are the biggest source of endpoint vulnerability in organizations. If your security perimeter is a house, then your firewalls act as the walls; designed to secure the objects within the enclosed space. Firewalls were created to protect servers when the administrators know exactly what kinds of connections should be allowed and what content to expect. As a result, it is a highly constrained environment which is relatively easy to defend.
However, browser activity does not tend to be well known or predictable. Browsers can connect to any server, anywhere in the world, asking for any kind of file, including active content which would be executed within the browser itself. For this reason, the Firewall has to adjust. It is no longer looking at an understood set of incoming connections from untrusted sources; it is looking at a nearly infinite variety of requests being initiated from within the trusted confines of the network. A visit to any single web page could spawn hundreds of web requests without the awareness or control of the user.
Problematically, the browser is actively inviting all of these files into the network by initiating the requests from within. Firewalls have mere milliseconds to try to guess whether the connections were intended, if it is safe, and if the content should be allowed through.
Like vampires, being invited in by the browser makes it much easier for malware to get inside and suck the data from your network.
Unfortunately, malware will not be warded off by a clove of garlic, a wooden cross, the rising sun or a raging river, and it will certainly not be swayed from disrupting your network once it is inside. So if your knowledge of fending off monsters won’t protect you, how can you combat malware? By isolating the browser from your devices and network to contain, defang, and easily eliminate any malware you encounter. With Ntrepid’s secure virtual browser, Passages, you may still need to watch out for the vampires working in your NOC, but the thought of malware infecting your device from the web can take a seat on the backburner.