One of the most recent advances in the realm of cybersecurity is the creation of disposable web browsers. Unlike a disposable session that is a feature within a frequently used browser, disposable browsers eliminate the entire browser application once the session finishes. This type of browser enhances the online privacy and security experience and could greatly benefit companies, protecting them from cyberattacks.
Given the recent advances in the use of AI to create scripts and programs that present a threat to users and current investment strategies involving a few businesses in Southeast Asia, it is safe to infer that the implementation of disposable browsers can significantly enhance the browsing experience for millions of users in the region.
We discuss the art of pivoting away from original startup ideas
The basics of disposable browsers
What makes this type of browser so special? Take all the protection measures a private session offers and add a few more levels. Like a private session, the web browser naturally disposes of all the browsing history, cookies, and temporary files that were active in the session.
Secondly, it expands the concept of isolation as all the browser processes are isolated, preventing cross-site tracking and mitigating the impact of malware. This isolation means that the browser is creating what is known as a sandbox environment that isolates potential threats from the operating system. Therefore, the temporary browser makes it very difficult for third-party trackers to monitor the user’s activities, scan for crucial data and create a browsing profile that could be utilised against the user.
Disposable browsers could be particularly useful when being used on shared devices. For example, a computer in a school, a university or a public library has multiple users logging in and providing private information during the course of a single day. This input of sensitive details brings a considerable risk as the computer maintains personal information, login details or sensitive data.
Finally, using such a browser limits what is known as the attack surface. Browsers usually have many extensions added to them that might expose vulnerabilities via malicious code. A disposable browser’s isolation reduces or altogether eliminates these attack vectors.
However, with heightened security comes some limitations. The lack of persistence of data might not be suitable for users that require their information to always be present in their workflow. The added hassle of having to input session credentials every time and not being able to access previously visited websites might not be as efficient for some users.
Functionality might also be limited, given the lack of extensions that the user might need being unavailable in the disposable browser. Finally, some disposable browsers like Tor aren’t as intuitive as, for example, Google Chrome, and users might have difficulty learning their way around the temporary nature of the browser itself.
Cybersecurity in Southeast Asia and the emergence of SquareX
The isolation of credentials, temporal environment, and mechanisms against malicious downloads prevalent in disposable browsers could benefit businesses by protecting them against phishing attacks. Phishing is a social engineering attack that intends to maliciously retrieve users’ information, like credit card details, login credentials, and even more sensitive data.
Anonymised data taken from the triggering of the Kaspersky Anti-Phishing system in Southeast Asia has made the rounds in several news outlets since last year, indicating that the number of phishing attacks in the first half of 2022 totalled more than all the attacks sustained in 2021. Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines received the brunt of the attacks, with Vietnam falling foul to 5.5 million, Malaysia to 1.9 million, and the Philippines to 1.8 million.
Considering this, one recent funding development could help turn the tide in the wave of cyber attacks. Founded in Singapore by cybersecurity veteran Vivek Ramachandran in March 2023, SquareX is an up-and-coming startup that provides disposable browsers to companies that use cloud-based SaaS tools.
By running the browsers in the company’s isolated data centres, SquareX users prevent threats from reaching their computers, making it a critical line of defence against new AI-designed malicious software models. By using the startup’s service as an alternative to VPNs, anti-malware and anti-virus solutions, users can eliminate all their activity immediately from the SquareX servers once the session ends.
SquareX recently raised USD 6 million from Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia. The early May funding will help expand the cybersecurity startup’s R&D department and solidly implement the company’s marketing strategy. SquareX is currently under a waitlist/invitation model and planning to roll out its disposable browsers to the US, UK, and Southeast Asian markets.
With innovations such as SquareX becoming more commonplace, businesses in Southeast Asia will soon be able to fend against cyber threats within an isolated and secure environment. With increased levels of cybersecurity, startups in the region can develop their companies in a more secure and safer landscape.