What is a Sandbox?

Sandboxes in the realm of anti-virus software are aptly named for their intended purpose. Boxed off areas of sand in playgrounds ensure that children have a place to play in this messy environment without spreading the fine sand throughout the rest of the playground. With a playground sandbox, you are effectively containing the sand, or mess, in a smaller environment. Anti-virus software follows the same principle with an effective internet security strategy.

Simulated Environment

A sandbox is essentially a simulated virtual environment within your computer. Rather than running software and browsing the internet directly from your computer, you can instead perform these actions through a fenced-off safe area. This security mechanism creates a highly controlled setting for running untested or untrustworthy applications without threatening the integrity of your operating system.

A Container for Untrusted Software

Malicious software is often disguised as trustworthy applications. Rather than running the risk of having any new applications wreak havoc on your computer's operating system, you can run the software or even your internet browser through a sandbox. This won't necessarily affect the software’s performance, but it will ensure that any content you engage on the internet won't have access to your computer as a whole.

Software developers also use simulated environments to test new additions to application coding. This separates any potential conflicts from the production or live environment and allows them to note what effects these changes make to the environment. For the purposes of internet browsing, this is incredibly helpful when you are navigating in potentially unscrupulous locations on the internet. Utilizing a sandbox browser ensures that any software you attempt to run through your browser or download will be blocked from accessing key elements of your operating system by a digital wall.

The sandbox environment helps when testing out a software application to see how it will interact with your operating system. This way you won't be fooled into downloading an application that will literally suck the life out of your computer. Most importantly, however, your sandbox will make sure that any malicious content that wants access to your computer's data won't get it.

Protection from Viruses

In a typical non-sandbox environment, when you browse the internet, your anti-virus filters are your computer’s main protection against malware. If your virus scan doesn't pick up Trojans when they infect your computer, then you'll be in for some long-term grief. However, the simulated environment of sandboxes ensures that malicious content cannot access your computer system. They are effectively stuck in the simulated environment; when you close that environment, the threat is gone.

Sandboxes create an invaluable line of defense against the malicious code that exists on the internet. This feature is often included in effective anti-virus software and provides additional layers of security to your computer. If your detection software does not offer sandbox capability, then your computer may still be at risk of infection.