Dell launches sandboxed version of Firefox 3.6

The company's Kace unit has released a free download of a virtualised version of Firefox that promises to secure web browsing by isolating it in a container
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Dell has launched a virtualised version of Firefox 3.6 that promises to protect businesses from web-based attacks by operating within a container.

The Dell Kace Secure Browser, released as a free download on Tuesday, uses Kace's Virtual Kontainer application's virtualisation technology to create a virtual instance of Firefox. This puts the browser in a 'sandbox', where any activity is separate from other processes on the computer. It keeps the underlying operating system and computer secure from hostile or potentially malicious changes, according to Dell.

Dell Kace chose Firefox "because it is already such a popular browser", a spokeswoman for Dell Kace told ZDNet UK. She added that the company is working on an Internet Explorer (IE) version for release later in 2010. The software is available for the 32-bit versions of Windows 7, Vista and XP, but not for 64-bit versions.

The locked-down Firefox comes preloaded with Adobe Reader and Flash plug-ins, though other add-on installations are blocked by default. In addition, the software offers whitelist and blacklist options so that businesses or users can reject or approve websites or process requests on an individual basis.

"Limiting browser use to specific sites can control usage and protect from cross-site scripting attacks. By specifying which sites are to be blocked, it makes it easy to keep users away from known bad sites, and thereby limit their exposure to attacks," Dell said in a posting on the Kace website.

The security-focused browser also includes a 'reset and clean' option. This resets any browser changes — such as added bookmarks, downloaded files, programs and cookies — back to default settings, removing any potentially malicious software in the process.

"Internet browsing is one of the number one sources for malware. With the Dell Kace Secure Browser, we stop malware at its source and trap it, and even provide granular control over browser activity," said Dell Kace president Rob Meinhardt in a statement.

Dell, which acquired Kace in February for its Kbox cross-platform management system and other technology, is pushing the use of the free browser with its commercial Kace K1000 Management Appliance. Businesses use the management system to deploy the secure browser across the company, with remote enforcement of allowed applications, site block lists and browser resets.

Whether monitored by an individual or an administrator, the browser provides an activity monitor to provide feedback on a range of factors, including the number of processes started, the number of processes blocked, blocked network access attempts, file actions contained and the number of registry actions contained.

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