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Definition of Sandbox

What is a sandbox?

In tech, a sandbox is a development environment used to test software, updates, and potentially harmful programs without causing damage to an application, system, or platform. A sandbox is disconnected from a company's network, meaning developers are free to experiment and "play" within this environment without the risk of harming other processes.

Sandboxing is the process of using a sandbox for one of these purposes. Different branches of the tech industry use sandboxing for their own reasons. Cybersecurity specialists, for example, use this method to test their products against cyber threats and to open suspicious files and programs. Developers use this approach to test new programs and features.

What is a sandbox used for?

Regardless of the industry, a sandbox is always used as a safe testing environment. Developers can test different versions of an application or system and new lines of the code they've written for a program. It's also a way to demonstrate new programs to stakeholders and clients. Giving them access through a sandbox provides them the opportunity to "play" with the system to better understand it without damaging anything vital. The same approach works for giving employees the opportunity to test a new program they'll need for work. In all of these cases, If something goes wrong, it won't affect the reliability or performance of the rest of the network.

In cybersecurity, sandboxing is used to isolate threats and malware to study them and understand how they could affect a system. A sandbox is a perfect environment for testing protective software without risking infection of key systems. Fintech companies can use sandboxing to test financial transactions without the risk of sending or losing real money.

What are the differences between cloud-based and appliance-based sandboxes?

A sandbox is disconnected from the rest of a company's network to avoid damaging essential systems while testing new programs or software. There are two approaches to sandboxing: appliance-based and cloud-based.

The appliance-based approach uses sandbox hardware that is physically present in a company's office but disconnected from its network. This approach lets you test new programs or examine threats on a specific piece of hardware, but this is a limiting factor as well. Remote employees won't receive protection or have access to this type of sandboxing. Moreover, it requires extra hardware to be used as a sandbox and there is still a chance that harmful programs can find a way into your primary networks. The cloud-based approach eliminates many of these drawbacks as the sandboxing environment is in the cloud; separate from your devices and network. Using a cloud-based approach could be a disadvantage for a smaller company with few access points and fewer resources or for enterprises with confidential or specific hardware needs. Also, sandboxing can be a resource-intensive process which may increase the time a cloud-based platform requires to test an update or threat, as opposed to on-site hardware.

Key Takeaways

  • A sandbox is a safe environment for testing new programs and examining malware during sandboxing.
  • Sandboxing allows companies to demonstrate new programs and software to clients and employees without harming their networks.
  • There are two approaches to sandboxing: appliance-based and cloud-based.
  • Appliance-based sandboxing requires on-site hardware for testing, while cloud-based sandboxing is done in the cloud completely separate from your network.

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