The security problems that continue to plague Internet Explorer 6 have been a bone of contention for many, resulting in alternative browsers becoming more and more common in the Windows world. While IE7 intends to change a lot of that, and indeed shows a great deal of promise, the final release of IE7 may be a long ways out. One solution for some IE6 users that don't want to switch browsers is to sandbox the program
. Sandboxing is a common way of letting a program run in a limited environment, to help prevent security breaches and privilege escalation. Even if a program is compromised, if it can't access anything but limited resources, it's potential damage payload is reduced.
A company called GreenBorder Technologies
is offering just such a sandbox for Internet Explorer, with a program called GreenBorder Pro. It runs IE in a mini virtual machine, one that isn't capable of causing system damage. On top of just offering a limited environment for IE to run in, the software also does a number of other things to make it a safer browsing experience:
"But this is much more than just virtualization," argued Bernard Harguindeguy, GreenBorder's chief executive, as he cited other security provisions in the product, such as a feature that scrubs the system of personal data after an online transaction. The software also blocks keyloggers from capturing keystrokes, and cloaks all files and system resources so that they're invisible to attacks, and thus safe from remote access or modification.
Even if the browser is compromised while inside this shell, a simple button-click restores everything to as it was. While some may see this as merely a way to cover up the underlying problem of security flaws inside IE6, functionality like this is actually something that other operating systems use to protect themselves. Indeed, even Microsoft is planning to include a similar technology into Windows Vista, on a reduced scale. Though it may seem cumbersome, it's an option for companies or individuals that simply have no option but to run IE. It still doesn't protect against someone releasing private information to a scammer, but no browser or software can truthfully claim to protect you from that. It's an interesting concept, for sure, and it will be just as interesting to see if it catches on.