Sandboxes might remind you of the playground, but they’re actually an important — and often unseen — security measure that can help protect your computer from cyberthreats. Here’s how they work:
What is sandboxing?
In cybersecurity terms, a sandbox is a restricted environment that isolates programs from one another on your computer. Take a web browser, for example: Say you open up a tab and visit a malicious site, which tries to install a virus onto your computer. On a computer without a sandbox installed, nothing would be able to stop the virus from having free access to your entire computer, putting your information and your device at risk. But on a Google Chromebook, which runs every program in its own sandbox, that virus would be contained. Thanks to these individual sandboxes, each web page and application runs in its own restricted environment. If you open up a tab to that same malicious site, the page can’t affect any of the other tabs or apps on the computer.
Why you need a laptop with sandboxing
By a security research institute’s estimate, there are more malware files in existence today than every before — more than 700 million — than every before. And that number has been growing by about 100 million new files each year. That increase has dramatic consequences on the consumer, and to the economy. In 2016, cybercrime cost the global economy over $450 billion in financial loses. And in just the United States, cybercriminals stole more than 2 billion personal records and the medical records of over 100 million Americans.
While essential, sandboxing isn’t the only security measure that can help protect you and your information. On top of automatic software updates, Chromebooks also come with Verified Boot, a self-check performed at every startup that checks for and repairs any corruptions in the system. Next time you think sandboxes are just for kids, take a moment to appreciate all they do to keep your computer — and you — safe.