Sandboxes exist because while sand may be fun, nobody wants it tracked all over the place. And we all know how annoying cleaning up sand can be. With sandboxes, you get to have your cake and eat it too. You play in the sand there and leave it behind when you’re ready to go home.
An analogous situation likewise exists in the computer world and the apps you run. All apps use the same resources on your computer, including your RAM, CPU, and hard drive space.
When you share common resources like these, you can create a “sand” problem. This means an app spreads across your computer, writing data across disks, accessing all your memory, and eating up CPU data. Sandboxes on a computer allow you to contain the “sand,” in this case, the app, to a manageable level.
The Cybersecurity Benefits of Sandboxing
Sandboxing has a large variety of cybersecurity benefits. Sandbox testing works to proactively test malware by executing code in a secure and isolated environment.
It may seem counterintuitive. Isn’t the last thing you want to do execute a potentially malicious file? This is why sandboxing is usually restricted to IT professionals only.
Since traditional security measures such as using antivirus software are reactive, they can only be used to solve previously identified malware threats.
Sandboxing enables security professionals to identify new malware threats and work to solve the dangers associated with them.
How Does Sandboxing Work?
Sandboxing can be implemented in a variety of different ways, depending on organizational needs. Three of the most common sandboxing types include:
- Virtualization: using a virtual machine (VM), IT teams create a sandbox that can both contain and examine particular programs
- Operation System Emulation: Sandbox emulates end-user operating systems without machine hardware access.
- Full System Emulation: creating a sandbox that simulates a host machine’s physical hardware—including RAM and hard disk memory. This provides the deepest look into suspicious app behavior and its impact.
What Vulnerabilities Does Sandboxing Have?
Sandboxing isn’t perfect. Hackers are constantly developing new malware threats and ways to bypass sandboxing security techniques:
- Sandbox Detection: Sandbox environments, even ones that seem incredibly similar to a real computer experience, still don’t completely resemble a real system. Some malware can detect this small difference and either malicious stall activities or terminate themselves immediately.
- Bypassing Sandboxing Weaknesses: sophisticated malware actors can exploit weaknesses in sandboxes. For example, they may use abnormally large sizes that sandboxes can’t process along with unusual file formats. Or, malware can bypass sandbox monitoring, creating a blind spot where it can be executed.
- Integrating Context-Aware Triggers: malware doesn’t always run itself immediately. Automated sandbox technology often works after a program is executed. Some malware will thus delay code execution until a specific period of time has elapsed, or a trigger occurs like a system reboot when sandboxing isn’t operational.
Sandboxing is Only One Part of Comprehensive Security
There is no single app or strategy you can use to guarantee 100% cybersecurity. Whale sandboxing is highly effective. It does have its weaknesses. Thus, to afford greater user safety, it must be used in combination with other privacy and security measures.
Since the majority of threats occur online, users must protect their internet connection with a VPN. What is a VPN? It is a virtual private network (https://nordvpn.com/what-is-a-vpn/). A VPN encrypts and anonymizes your web activity, making it much difficult for hackers to track what you do.
Likewise, security patches, antivirus software, and web firewalls are also necessary to reduce cyber-attack risk. Have these tools installed and always running across all your internet-enabled devices.
Users must take steps to protect their accounts and be cautious of their online behavior. All accounts need unique, lengthy, and complex passwords combined with additional tools like two-factor authentication and biometric login tools like a fingerprint or facial identification scan. While doing so, you need to avoid suspicious websites and never click on files or links without scanning them first.
Finally, as tempting as trying sandboxing on your own might be, don’t. You need to leave it to the experts. Malware can even bypass some of the most secure sandboxing environments and skilled coders.
But don’t be afraid to use sandboxing in other ways. Sandboxing is also a great method for developing new apps and seeing how programs will run as well as creating separating ecosystems for different types of computer usage. If you want to try it out, then download a VM software and see what it can do for you.
Sandboxing is an excellent way to improve security. Make sure you pair with other strategies like using a VPN. That’s the best way to ensure your security in the digital world.