Internet Security: Do You Sandbox?

Vault with Safe-deposit Boxes InsideA computer security sandbox is a virtual computer environment which resides on the disk of another computer. By virtual, I mean a totally operable “computer” that is created and controlled by software and looks and feels to other software packages, browsers, and yes…malware; just like a computer—but it’s not. And…here’s the best part…the sandbox is completely controlled and sealed off from the rest of the host computer. So, if you were browsing the Internet using a sandbox and a virus

 got by your firewall and anti-virus protection and infected your virtual “computer” sandbox; the virus would be contained within the sandbox and at the end of your browsing session would be deleted without causing any harm to your real computer.

By the way, before you start thinking a sandbox is the answer to all your anti-malware needs, using a sandbox is just one “layer” in good computer security protection. We call this a layered security approach: where we use several security protection components or layers to keep the malware and the bad guys out. These components are usually: the physical access to your computer; a firewall; and anti-virus and other malware protection. This is a simplified list and description in order to get this point across.

Another way to visualize layered security is to imagine that your house is your computer, your bedroom is your operating system and software applications running on your computer. A burglar is malware in the form of a virus. The burglar first has to break the lock on your front gate (the physical security layer such as who you let use your computer); next he needs to break the lock on your front door (the firewall layer which tries to filter entry into your system); next the burglar has to get past your dog who is trained to bark and attempt to subdue viruses, er…burglars that he recognizes as such (this layer is your anti-virus/malware protection). Once this burglar has gotten past the gate, door and dog, he’s got free access to your bedroom (operating system and applications) and other parts of the house as he pleases. At this point you might be thinking that a burglar (virus) will never get past all three of those layers. Sorry, but as effective as those layers are…they can still be penetrated under the right circumstances. So…let’s add another layer for good measure—a sandbox.

Let’s continue our burglar scenario and say the sandbox is a room built as a vault with no chance of escape once someone enters it. The vault room (sandbox) is located inside the house, in the foyer with the dog, and between the door and the bedroom. Mr. burglar goes in there, thinks he’s free to do his nasty deeds and hangs out there. However, when the family goes to sleep and turns the lights out (shutting down your computer), the vault room, with Mr. burglar, disappears as if they were never there. The next day when the family wakes up; a new, empty vault room is created just in case another burglar drops by.

Computer security sandboxes are available for free and purchase and have become easy for less-technical folks to use. Google “best sandbox software” to begin your search. One such sandbox is Sandboxie, the one I use, and I’m quite happy with it. I have no relationship with Sandboxie and only know them as a customer. However, as you check around the Internet and look at the sandbox software reviews and evaluations you’ll be able to make an informed decision on which one you’d like to try. If you’re not comfortable with doing so, ask a computer support professional to help—it’s that important.

Remember, be careful…it’s dangerous out there.

Please comment on this subject; we all learn from each other when our views and opinions are shared.

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Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.

Best regards,





Filed under Internet, security, software

16 responses to “Internet Security: Do You Sandbox?

  1. shahram

    Thanking you, I have Norton Internet Security, this is my question , if I download the Sandboxie(that freeware one), whether there is possibility that the above Sandboxie software could conflict with my NIS, because it told that two security softwares conflict in one pc, I would like to thank you for the attention.

  2. clas

    another good article. and sandboxie for me is a must use every time i go online and i never have any problems. one thought: i have talked to many friends about security and sandboxing. they are always happy to hear about it but never take the simple action to get it and use it. how can you light a fire under these people and get them moving?

  3. Greg

    Great job! I now understand S what Sandbow does. Idoubtif I will spend $$ and get Sandboxie but I need Sandbow the free version.

    • Hi Greg,
      Glad you liked the article. I’m not aware of a free virtual partition package, but you can check out to see what they might have. However, I’d check the reviews, from both the Editors and the users to Be sure the package will do the job. Let me know what you come up with.

    • Greg,
      I took a quick look at Cnet downloads for free sandboxes, but the offerings look bleak. I’d pay the $40 and change for a Sandboxie lifetime license if I were you. Look at the investment this way-if it stops one destructive malware such as a ransomware; the $40 is cheap insurance…just my opinion.

  4. Pingback: Internet Security: Do You Sandbox? | Paul's Internet Security Blog | Top Internet Security

  5. Applying Computer Settings Hangs

    Anyone know any good sites where I can read more information on this

  6. Pingback: Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 14, 2011 | Bill Mullins' Weblog – Tech Thoughts

  7. Paul,

    Sandboxie is an awesome application. I use it and trust it!

    Another app that I have used is called Shadow Defender that lets you put the computer in a shadow or sandbox mode. I’m seeing more and more of this type of virtualization; however, I find that most people do not grasp the concept.

    Great article!


  8. Pingback: Surf Smarter – Take A Sneak Peek At Links With CoolPreviews Firefox Add-on | Bill Mullins' Weblog – Tech Thoughts

    • Bill,
      CoolPreviews sounds like a great tool; I’m green with envy (still using Windows). I’m blown away by the kind words and use of my blog in your great article. Thanks for all your support. You’re a great mentor and friend. Thank you.

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