Isolated Browsing FAQ

Is isolated browsing the same as using a VPN?

Implementing a VPN is good for privacy but it does nothing to enhance our security.

When we use a VPN, the connection between our browser and the web is encrypted. This makes our browser session private, and stops our Internet Service Provider (ISP) from snooping on us. But while a VPN enhances our privacy, it won’t protect us from web-borne infections. Even if we are using a VPN, our browser is still executing potentially dangerous web content on our computer. Even with a VPN, we remain vulnerable to web-borne attacks and malware.

I have an anti-virus installed. Isn’t that good enough?

Unfortunately, not. Because of the way it works, anti-virus software cannot provide a 100% guarantee that we won’t become infected when using a browser. We can only get this guarantee by changing to isolated browsing.

How does isolated browsing defend against viruses contained within documents?

In many cases, viruses are delivered to us in attachments such as Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF documents. Isolated browsing defends against such attacks by sanitising attachments before they are opened, ensuring that any potentially dangerous content is removed before we view or download the document.

To learn more about dangerous attachments, check out Module 7 of the Password Coach Academy – How to spot and avoid dangerous attachments

My browser remembers all my passwords. Will isolated browsing do the same?

Yes, it will. Isolated browsing includes full support for secure password management.

It is also worth mentioning that using your existing browser’s password autofill function is risky. This is because scammers have found ways to easily pull your stored login credentials (user name and password) from your browser. Without you knowing.

Isolated browsing does not have the same vulnerability. With isolated browsing, credentials are saved in an encrypted and secure environment. Scammers have no way of syphoning off your credentials when you use isolated browsing.

Remember, when it comes to passwords, reuse is a major security issue. To be safe, you must ensure that you never reuse passwords.

You can learn how to create secure and unique passwords here
You can learn why using your existing browser’s password autofill function is risky here

I’m especially concerned about my financial accounts being compromised. Does isolated browsing help here?

Yes, it does. The trick here is to first ensure that you are securing all your financial accounts (paypal, banking, Government and IRS, credit cards, cryptocurrency wallets and so on) with strong and unique passwords.

  • If your passwords are not strong, then they might be easy for a computer to guess
  • If your passwords are not unique, then your credentials may already be in the wrong hands

If either of these are true, then you must switch up to strong and unique passwords to ensure that your accounts are secure. Isolated browsing can't protect your financial accounts if your passwords aren't up to scratch.

Once all your financial accounts are properly locked down, you are ready to store your bullet-proof credentials within isolated browsing. You will then have one click access to your financial accounts in a secure and private environment. And because you will only ever use the one click method to access your accounts, you won’t get tricked into handing over your credentials to a fake website in a phishing scam. In fact, if your passwords are strong and secure, you won't be able to remember them and so won't be able to share them with scammers!

Strong and unique passwords will combine with isolated browsing to ensure maximum security for your most sensitive financial accounts.

You can learn a simple repeatable process for the creation and retrieval of strong and unique passwords here.

How does isolated browsing enhance my privacy?

Isolated browsing enhances your privacy in several ways.

Persistence (or lack thereof)

There is no persistence in isolated browsing. When we end a browsing session, everything is deleted. When we start a new session, a brand new secure browsing environment is created. No data (such as browsing history, cookies or spyware) is retained between sessions. This means that it is impossible for websites to track us over time. Or build a profile of our interests.

Encryption

When we use isolated browsing, our browser session is fully encrypted. No aspect of that session is visible to our ISP. Also, our true geographic location is masked. Whilst we might be physically sat in North America, isolated browsing is going to report that we are someplace else. For example, in Japan.

Ad Blocking

See below.

Does isolated browsing block ads?

Yes, isolated browsing block ads automatically. It’s the default setting. This has multiple benefits.

Privacy:

Online ads are being used to track our every move on the web. The networks that serve these ads are constantly monitoring us and building a profile of our interests and intent based on the content that we consume. By blocking these ads, we put a complete stop to this practice.

Virus protection:

Scammers have found ways to insert viruses into online ads. In the past, sites such as the BBC, the New York Times, AOL and MSN have been used to deliver malware via malicious ads. Even if we limit our browsing to credible and legitimate websites, we can still become infected by the ads that are displayed. The good news is that isolated browsing stops all ads (both good and bad) from ever running and so protects us from this particularly sneaky type of attack.

Improved experience:

Many websites, especially news sites, generate income by selling advertising space to the highest bidder. This usually means that we’ll see multiple ads dotted around each page that we visit, which can be quite distracting. But when we use isolated browsing, the built-in ad blocking capability means that the ads never show and the overall browsing experience is improved.

Will isolated browsing stop Social Media companies from selling my data to third parties?

Unfortunately, not.

How does isolated browsing help defend against phishing scams?

Yes. Isolated browsing helps to defend against phishing scams in two ways:

Sanitisation

Firstly, all documents (such as email attachments) are sanitised before opening, ensuring that any dangerous content is removed before the document is viewed or downloaded.

One-click Login

Secondly, the one-click login feature within isolated browsing prevents us from accidently sharing sensitive data (such as login credentials) with scammer and their phony websites.

Remember, phishing scams often come to us in email, but they can also be delivered by SMS (text message), social media, messenger and even phone calls. Isolated browsing provides protection against malware and other types of infection, but only when we are browsing. If we are being attacked in other ways, e.g. on a phone call, we must be able to spot and avoid these scams under our own steam. This is why it is important to complete the Password Coach Academy e-learning course “Defend against phishing scams, ransomware attacks and other forms of cyberscam”.

Follow Password Coach (@passwordcoach) using the button below to see a daily feed of privacy and security micro-tips in your timeline.

Can you recommend an isolated browser?

Yes, Silo from Authentic8 is highly recommended. You can test-drive Silo and start a free trial here.

How much does isolated browsing cost?

For home users, isolated browsing may be purchased for as little as $100 USD per annum. Use the Password Coach discount code for an even better deal. Enhanced privacy and guaranteed security for the price of a VPN subscription.


Password Security FAQ

I can't open the Book of Password Hints. What's the problem?

You should always use the Adobe Acrobat Reader to open and use the Book of Password Hints. You can get the Acrobat Reader here http://www.adobe.com/go/getreader. If you use a Mac, you can also use the standard 'Preview' application.

I can't update the Index in my Book of Password Hints. What's the problem?

There are many apps that will open a PDF, but a good number of those won't allow edits. If the app doesn't allow edits, that you won't be able to update the Book's Index using that app. As above, always use Adobe's Acrobat Reader and you won't hit such issues. Acrobat is available for most desktop and mobile devices.

How do I easily make the Hints available on all my devices, including phone and tablet?

The Adobe Acrobat Reader will enable you to save the Hints to your Adobe Document Cloud account. Once there, the book can be opened and updated on any device that supports the Acrobat Reader app. This is pretty cool. Read more at https://helpx.adobe.com/document-cloud/help/files.html.

If I generate expert-grade passwords using Hints, can I then use my browser to remember them for me?

Yes you can. But before you do, know that this is a big security risk. Scammers have found ways to extract passwords from browsers. It is much safer to use isolated browsing.

To learn why using your existing browser’s password autofill function is risky, check out this short video tutorial https://youtu.be/0u9oChRspXU

When I open my Book of Password Hints in Adobe Acrobat Reader, the index and notes fields are a horrible puce colour. Can that be changed?

Yes, but only in the Desktop version of the Acrobat Reader (mobile versions do not support this capability). To make the change, head to the Preferences option. Once there, locate ‘Forms’ in the Categories list, and change the 'Field Highlights Color' to white.

change the Acrobat Reader field color so that it sucks less

Can I print bits of the book?

You bet! In the Acrobat print dialogue, set Page Sizing and Handling to 'Fit' and Orientation to 'Auto'. Make sure that 'Choose paper source by PDF paper size' is NOT checked. If it is, it is going to look for A5 paper size, which will result in paper jams and swearing. 

 Set the Size to 'Fit' and uncheck 'Choose paper source by PDF page size'

Set the Size to 'Fit' and uncheck 'Choose paper source by PDF page size'

How many versions of Password Coach are there?

There are thousands of unique versions of the book to ensure that you are unlikely to have the same version as as your friends, colleagues or neighbours. Corporate clients can request custom versions of the book for their staff.

Should I copy my friend's version of the Book of Hints?

The reason that we've created lots of unique versions of the book is so that no one knows which version of the book you have. The more versions of the book that we create, the lower the chances that anyone will be able to guess your passwords even if you let your pattern slip. We recommend that you get your own version and keep that to yourself.

Password change day at work is a real pain. Can we use Password Coach in the office?

Absolutely. Small businesses can head straight to the store and buy versions off the shelf. Larger businesses will be interested in licensing their own private and custom versions. If that's you, ask your Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or equivalent to reach out to us via the form here.