Several years ago, Island Co-founders Michael Fey and Dan Amiga had an epiphany.
What if enterprise organizations had complete control over the browser environment? They knew the traditional web browser was the most widely deployed application by enterprise organizations; yet the browser wasn’t built for the enterprise, it was built for the consumer market.
This commonly used software application is incapable of offering the high-level security, visibility and privacy enterprise users needed.
If it could be modified for the enterprise, they knew it could change everything. With this belief, the founders began developing an enterprise browser that would simplify the security stack, give the enterprise complete policy control and deliver a more efficient, safer and productive browsing environment.
In February 2022, their vision became reality when the enterprise browser emerged from stealth mode to take control of the last mile – from the network to the end device - and redefine the end-user experience.
With the Island Enterprise Browser launch, enterprise organizations no longer need Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) or costly virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for data loss prevention.
While the thought of contractors accessing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications from home once made CISOs think twice, with Island’s Enterprise Browser they can now greenlight personal email, collaborative platforms and Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) while quickly ramping up contractors as needed.
Perfect Timing for the First Enterprise Browser
After nearly two years of product development, the Island browser emerged at a time when most major browsers were standardizing to the Chromium open-source project. Leveraging the open-source project, Island’s co-founders seized an opportunity to create a custom browsing experience for enterprise organizations without having to build their own rendering engine. Building on Chromium also meant creating an entirely familiar experience for end users, reducing friction in deployments.
“We could stand on the shoulders of those giants and make sure all of our energy went into making the browser the best enterprise resource possible by upgrading the security posture, improving integrations, giving them complete policy control and providing infinite last mile control,” said Michael Fey, co-founder and CEO, Island.
At the same time, enterprise organizations were shifting to a remote workplace where contractors, call center staff, and BYOD workers needed access to internal web and SaaS applications like Salesforce and Workday.
Island’s enterprise browser allows these organizations to seal the SaaS environment, secure last-mile control and achieve total data loss prevention (DLP). By simplifying the security stack and working with, not against, existing systems, the browser is able to support web filtering, web isolation and Zero Trust network access with a cost-effective solution.
“When call centers move remote, they find themselves going to a SaaS application over a virtual infrastructure to a backhaul location to get out to the SaaS application,” says Fey. “We bring common sense to that architecture and let those users go directly to the SaaS application while still providing the security controls.”
A pricey venture requiring a massive number of engineers, Island’s browser also carried the good fortune of launching within a favorable fundraising environment, with Insight Partners, Stripes and Sequoia Capital providing more than $200 million in capital to bring the founders’ vision to light.
Protecting the SaaS Environment with Built-in – not Bolt-on – Security
Unlike bolt-on security tools, Island’s enterprise browser provides deep control at the operating system level with security that’s built by design.
While not a replacement but more of an augmentation to the enterprise customer’s existing approach, the enterprise browser circumvents massive change management, allowing enterprises to quickly ramp up call centers and contractors on personal devices.
Users can decide what the browser does and doesn’t do – like cut, copy, paste; take a screenshot; tag traffic; redact data; and change what information flows under enterprise control and governance.
Although Island’s enterprise browser provides remote browser isolation, web filtering and mobile device management (MDM), the browser most often works alongside existing systems to simplify the architecture, reduce expense and provide total endpoint protection.
“This allows us to connect to any of those designs and complete that last mile that’s been missing. So often in the Zero Trust architecture, people would get to the last mile and realize the data on the endpoint was still a massive point of risk, so they went with a heavy, overburdened architecture like a desktop as a service. The enterprise browser allows us to rethink the last mile and ensure it collaborates with all the platforms,” says Fey.
How Island Built its A-Team
Island has built an impressive roster of leadership and engineering talent with a “nexus of experience” approach beginning with Fey, the former president of Symantec, and Amiga, the founder of Fireglass, an RBI solution that works with Chromium browsers.
“In the world of cybersecurity, where the bulk of people spend their entire careers selling and building something that is just the next generation of something else – the next endpoint, the next gateway, the new firewall – this was an opportunity for those people to take all that skill and expertise and do something fundamentally new and different. We’ve excited people’s imaginations,” says Fey.
The co-founders also learned early on that they would need to remove the friction of adoption if they were going to realize the ultimate vision of delivering the first enterprise browser.
“I think too often people fall in love with their big vision and don’t fully appreciate the challenges they will encounter on the path between the vision and the reality,” says Fey. “You have to address the journey from day one because your investors are going to go to those places and ask you the hard questions, and the difference between an investment they’re excited about and one they just think is interesting is having great answers and proof points to solve those problems.”
Fey advises other startup founders to first identify the obstacles that may be standing in the way of their go-to-market plan. “What is uncharacteristically difficult about your plan? Whether it’s adoption, the business model or the tech, make sure your early days of investment are about tackling that,” he says.
As Island drives toward more integrations, Fey expects the company to expand beyond cybersecurity by helping IT better understand performance and the end user process with greater visibility.
Island’s founders believe every enterprise organization will be running on an enterprise browser one day. “That level of control at the last mile is essential to delivering things like Zero Trust, secure edge and BYOD,” says Fey.
If the vision holds true, the enterprise browser will soon become a core part of the IT toolset as users seek a safer, more secure and productive end solution.