Chrome Enterprise Premium promises extra security – for a fee

Paying for browsers is no longer a memory from the 1990s

Cloud Next Hoping to upsell freeloading corporate users of its Chrome browser, Google has announced Chrome Enterprise Premium – which comes with a dash of AI security sauce for just $6 per user per month.

It's been a while since anyone charged for a web browser. Netscape initially asked $39 for Netscape Navigator Personal Edition in the summer of 1995, but didn't fare well against Microsoft's free Internet Explorer.

"Netscape dropped the price of its browser to zero only in response to Microsoft's predatory strategy," as was noted [PDF] in US Justice Department documents some years later.

But as Gartner foretold last year, "by 2030, the browser will become a platform from which enterprises can distribute software, collect intelligence, control access, and securely enable remote work."

The analyst firm further predicted: "As the browser increasingly stakes its claim as the center of the knowledge worker's corporate universe, enterprise browser vendors are increasingly developing security controls that live within the browser."

That's more or less an invitation to rethink browser monetization. Small wonder Google cites Gartner on its website.

Chrome, as explained by Parisa Tabriz, VP of Chrome at Google, is already "a leader in browser security," having built "features and best practices that have disrupted, and then established, industry norms."

Such claims are not new or unique. In 2022, Mozilla claimed Firefox was "the most private and secure major browser available across Windows, Mac, Linux and Android." But based on what criteria? Critical vulnerabilities per year? Successful active exploitation campaigns? Private information not exfiltrated via ad tracking scripts?

Suffice to say Chrome can be configured to be reasonably secure. And for many, what you get out of the box – at no extra cost – with Chrome Enterprise Core should be enough.

But for six dollars per employee per month, there's even more security to be had with Chrome Enterprise Premium.

There's security from AI providers – we're not naming names – that might snarf local data for training, for example. Chrome Enterprise Premium provides a service called "Context-aware access control," which, Tabriz explains, "can mitigate data exfiltration risks for sanctioned and unsanctioned applications."

A canned quote on the Chrome Enterprise Premium product page from Nick Reva, head of corporate security engineering at Snap, underscores the need to defend against grabby generative AI applications.

"We set up DLP [data loss prevention] restrictions and warnings for sharing sensitive information in applications like generative AI platforms and noticed a noteworthy 50 percent reduction in content transfers."

But wait – there's more. Purchasers get enterprise controls to help support policies, handle software updates, and support assorted protocols including RDP, SCP, and SSH. There's broader event and device reporting, as well as forensic capabilities that work with other Google and third-party security products. And there's threat and data protection, in the form of malware scanning, dynamic URL filtering, and site categorization.

Thanks, AI. ®

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