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Cloudflare wants to make major under-the-hood changes to your web browser

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Internet infrastructure company Cloudflare has launched a new service that makes under-the-hood changes to the way web browsers (opens in new tab) serve up content, with the goal of protecting against security threats.

The Cloudflare Browser Isolation service runs browser sessions in the cloud (opens in new tab) as opposed to locally, creating a gap between devices and any cyberthreats. The page that arrives on the user’s device is an exact replica of the original, itself running in a sealed container environment in one of the company’s data centers.

According to Cloudflare, the new service uses a fundamentally different approach to alternative browser isolators, many of which compromise on performance in the name of security.

Unlike competing services, Cloudflare Browser Isolation runs on the company’s own network, the scale and availability of which supposedly prevents any perceptible drops in performance.

The tool is geared primarily towards businesses looking to shield employees from attack, but it’s possible consumers could benefit from the technology in future. Cloudflare did not respond immediately to our request for clarification on this point.

Update:
A Cloudflare spokesperson told TechRadar Pro that consumers could technically purchase a one-seat license for Cloudflare for Teams, which would allow them to benefit from the new service.

Protection

With the rise of web-based apps, web browsers have overtaken desktop clients as the focal point for work. From office software (opens in new tab) and email (opens in new tab) to messaging (opens in new tab) and video conferencing (opens in new tab), almost all core work functions can now be performed via the browser.

However, according to Cloudflare, this paradigm shift has also made web browsers “one of the largest and most complex sources of attacks for every company”.

Cloudflare hopes its new browser isolation service will allow businesses to protect employees from malware and malicious domains, while still preserving their ability to work productively from any location.

Typically, this kind of protection has been reserved for large enterprises with a wealth of resources at their disposal, but Cloudflare claims the new service democratizes access to the highest levels of security.

“Everyone uses a web browser and that makes it the perfect target for attackers all over the world,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO at Cloudflare.

“We don’t believe the most effective protection to these attacks should be restricted to a handful of large companies with huge IT teams. Cloudflare Browser Isolation can be deployed by anyone in just a few clicks and automatically protects against the majority of threats people face online.”

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.