Browser beta blockers

Earlier this month I blogged about how Sophos was planning to extend the application control functionality built into Sophos’s solution to help you control whether your users should be allowed to run Google Chrome or not.

We can already help you control usage of Firefox (versions 1-3), Internet Explorer (versions 5-7), Safari, Opera, Netscape and Flock, as well as lesser known internet browsers. And I’m delighted to say that we have now added Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 to that list.

In a poll we conducted earlier this year, Sophos found that seven out of 10 network administrators wanted greater control over what web browser company employees installed and used. In other words, most of them don’t want you to run Firefox if they have chosen Internet Explorer for the company, and vice versa.

System administrators want to enforce policies about what browsers you can run to reduce their support overheads, and to lessen the security risks.

Google Chrome

After all, we all know these days that most of the threats are coming through the web – so if your browser is not properly patched against the latest vulnerabilities you may be exposing your firm to infection. And if you work in the IT department and you simply don’t know what browsers your fellow colleagues are running then what chance do you have of ensuring that they are defended appropriately?

This is particularly important, of course, with beta versions of browsers. Both Google Chrome and IE 8 aren’t officially launched yet – they’re still in beta test. Computer users, excited by new features or to try out “cool” new technology, may be tempted to run a beta browser on their computer – potentially exposing themselves to a higher level of risk compared to software that the browser vendor has determined is fully ready for the world.

Furthermore, the hype around Google entering the browser market appears to have encouraged some into looking for security vulnerabilities in Chrome’s code. I’m not saying that Google Chrome is bad – just that your company’s IT experts should decide which browsers get run inside your office, not your users.

Firms need to ensure that they have tight control over the software running on their employees’ computers. That doesn’t just mean computer games, IM clients, VoIP and P2P file-sharing, it increasingly means which web browser they’re using too.