Sandboxie: Keeping Malware Off Your PC: Page 2


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Note that this sandbox is not limited to a web browser, any program can be run in the ThrowMeAway sandbox.

My first reaction to Sandboxie was wondering how to save bookmarks from a web browser running in a sandbox. Backing out the browser activity is great for reversing drive-by downloads, but there also needs to be a way for a sandboxed browser to make permanent changes to the file system.

No problem, you can poke holes in sandboxes. Any folder can be configured as an exception to normal sandboxing. For web browsers, Sanboxie makes this especially easy. Shown below are the options for running Firefox in a sandbox:

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Are there sensitive files on your computer? Perhaps you would prefer that they were not visible by programs running in a Sandbox? Easily done. Sandboxie can be configured so that certain folders and registry keys are totally unavailable to sandboxed programs.

There are also options that make it visually obvious when a program is running in a sandbox and the name of the sandbox it's running inside.

Malicious software often gets on computers as email attachments. To defend against this, simply run your email program in a sandbox. For the best protection, you may want to run all Internet-facing applications in a sandbox.

Even better, a sandbox can be configured such that no programs running inside it can access the Internet other than those that you have pre-allowed. Thus, if an email attachment does install malware, the malicious software can't phone home. This is outstanding protection, even from malicious software that has yet to be invented.

Sandboxie runs on Windows XP, Vista, 2000 and Server 2003. According to the website, "There are no particular hardware requirements. Sandboxie needs only a small amount of memory and should have a very small impact on performance. "

There is both a free version and a paid/registered version of Sandboxie. The free version offers the vast majority of features.

For personal use, Sandboxie costs $39.92 or 26 Euros. This gives you a life-time registration key to the current and all future versions of the software. In addition, paying lets you run the full-featured version of Sanboxie on "any number of computers that you personally own." There are different rules for commercial use.

Perhaps the most important feature offered only to paying customers, is the ability to force programs, such as your web browser, to always run in a sandbox. With the free version, I typically right click on the icon for the application I want to be sandboxed, and select "Run Sandboxed" from the pop-up menu.

Sandboxie was developed by a single person, Ronen Tzur, which I consider a plus. Speaking as a former programmer, the best software is always developed by a very small number of motivated, qualified developers. For assorted reasons, large companies typically produce large software of questionable quality.

I'll take software developed by a single good techie any time.

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Tags: Windows, virtualization, Internet Explorer, malware, desktop virtualization

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