In the field of cybersecurity, people spend a lot of time talking about what works and what doesn’t. Because some people are always trying to “one-up” their colleagues, cybersecurity talk can often seem more complicated than it’s ever really been. It seems that, for every good cybersecurity solution, there will be those who claim it is useless. Today, however, we are going to talk about one of the best weapons in your internet security arsenal. Sandbox security is one of the few security measures that has proven to be highly reliable.
What Is Sandbox Security?
Sandbox security, sometimes known simply as “sandboxing,” is the use of a virtual environment for security testing purposes. If you have never heard of virtualization, it involves creating a second system inside of your existing one. It does this by utilizing some of your hard drive space and RAM capacity to run a “virtual machine,” or VM. A VM can do everything that a regular computer system can do, but all of its physical components are simulated.
By creating a virtual machine that is separated from your actual machine, you have given yourself a safe place to play with new things. The sandbox environment becomes a disposable space if something goes wrong. So, for instance, let’s say you are concerned that a particular file may be infected. Instead of downloading it to your physical machine, download it to a VM. Then, when you open the file, you can see what happens. If something goes wrong and/or the file is infected, you can simply delete the whole VM and create another one when needed.
How To Implement Sandbox Security
The first thing you will need is some sort of virtualization program. Virtualbox and Sandboxie are two of the more popular ones, but there are plenty of other options. If you are a Linux user, you will be happy to know that some distros (like Fedora) come with built-in virtualization tools. If you are more of a MAC kind of person, you are also in luck because Apple provides a sandbox app for free.
Once you install the software (and any add-one/extensions that may be required), you are ready to create your first VM. The software should guide you through the process, most of which is quite simple. You will need to decide how much hard disk space and RAM you want to dedicate to this machine. For a simple testing sandbox, we would recommend going with very small numbers here.
As part of this process, you will need to install an operating system on the new VM. When you are making a security sandbox, you want that VM to use the same operating system that your physical machine uses. Make sure that you are using the same version, and you may need to let it update as well. Once your VM is set up with its operating system, it is ready to use.
Troubleshooting: Where To Get Installation Media?
Some people will have trouble when they try to create a VM if they do not have an installation disc for their operating system. For instance, if you are running Windows 10 (which most of you probably are), you might not even own a physical Windows disc. In many cases, people buy their computers with Windows pre-installed, but it is possible to make a backup disc from any legitimate copy. You will, of course, need a valid product key.
You will need to download a program called “Windows Media Creation Tool,” which can be found here. Just click the button that says “Download tool now.” Using this tool, you can either create a bootable USB drive or a bootable optical disc. Instructions for MAC users can be found here. Linux users don’t really have to worry about this since their installation discs are nearly always available as free ISO files. Thus, Linux users will simply need to download the latest version of their chosen distro and burn the ISO to a disc/flash drive.
Is Sandbox Security Widely Used?
As a matter of fact, sandbox security is actually very common. It often happens as a background process, so most people are unaware of its action. However, most browsers do utilize this technology when loading pages and videos. That’s why opening up a webpage usually involves more than one or two connections. Everything has to go through a VM, which effectively functions as an extra server.
Modern browsers have become a lot more complicated, and these complications create many opportunities for hackers. Each new feature provides new code that can be exploited in some way. Thankfully, developers are beginning to utilize active sandboxing in their browsers. This article, for instance, details how Firefox is trying to implement a sandbox-based security approach.
Is There An Easier Way To Do All Of This?
If all this stuff seems too complicated for you, you might be wondering if there is a simpler alternative. Thankfully, such an alternative does exist. Cloud-based sandboxing services allow you to open a virtual cybersecurity environment at the touch of a button. A cloud sandbox will require little to no setup, allowing you to test the file or program immediately. Of course, such services are not free, but neither are most good services.
There are some sites that claim to offer free online sandbox testing, but we haven’t been able to find one that works properly. Besides, there is usually no way to find out anything about the people who run such sites. We would consider most of them to be suspicious, so cloud sandboxing is probably a better way to go.
Sandboxing is one of the most effective cybersecurity measures out there because it relies on the good old concept of compartmentalization. By using an isolated cybersecurity environment, you can make sure that nothing outside that environment is affected. This is quite similar to the way that intelligence agencies (and criminal groups) minimize liability by keeping everything on a “need-to-know” basis. At PCH Technologies, we believe in utilizing every available tool to improve your network security. If you would like to know more about us or our services, please call (856) 754-7500.