Secure web browser for kiosks and class rooms

Browser Security vs Secure Web Browser

Generally, when people talk about secure web browsers, they are referring to a web browser's resistance to exploits and commands that can compromise a computer. But when we start talking about security for web site content, one finds that popular web browsers are virtually incapable of protecting any web content from copy, plagiarism and unauthorized exploitation.

Popular web browsers are designed to exploit web content

There are no options omitted when it comes to providing the means and methods for copying and saving all types of files used on the web. To make their browsers as appealing as possible, browser designers have empowered the user to copy, print and save anything on a web page and just in case they cannot click to save it directly, there are options to download everything on the page with one click of the mouse.

Copy protecting web content in popular browsers

While it is possible to restrict copying in popular web browsers, the situation is far from ideal as it becomes virtually impossible to prevent access from every possible angle. The usual options for copy and save are:
  • Right mouse click to "save as".
  • Browser menu option for saving the page with all embedded media.
  • Right mouse click to save the page with all embedded media.
  • Highlighting by mouse select and copy-and-paste to the clipboard.
  • Click select by mouse and drag-and-drop to the desktop.
  • Right mouse click to send to a printer or file driver for conversion.
  • Browser menu option for sending to printer or file converter.
  • Right mouse click to send attached to an email.
  • Browser menu option for sending as an email attachment.
  • Using Ctrl C or Print Screen to create a screenshot of the page.
  • Using screen capture software and recorders to copy pages and video.
  • Locating the download resource of media from view of source code.
  • Using site and file grabbers to download media linked from a page.
  • Using file grabbers to retrieve media from web browser cache.
  • Packet-sniffing to intercept page resources and passwords.
Most of these options can also be activated by using hotkeys such as "Ctrl C" for copy to the clipboard and so on. One naive method for preventing copy involves the disabling of the mouse right-click menus, but even without mouse-click the user still has plenty of options at their disposal via the keyboard. But even after disabling all of the options, the page is still at the mercy of screen capture software and cache retrieval.

As copy protection developers and site owners have become more adept at preventing copy, others have been busy developing ways to exploit it. For example site grabbers and movie downloaders can spider a web page like search engines to build indexes of files to download. Such downloaders can target specified file types and collect every one of them from your website. Other downloaders utilize the cache (temporary internet files folder) used by your web browser so all a user has to do is visit the page.

In theory, web page encryption should prevent the location of files linked from a page, but it does not. In fact web encryption, especially if relying on JavaScript, is a useless because the web browser finds the decryption key in the very source that it is supposed to be protected. To display the web page, the web browser needs to decrypt it and once decrypted you are back at square one with the unprotected page on display with all of its HTML and source code which is also readily available from browser cache.

Limitations and requirements

Contrary to what some "copy protect" developers claim, it is impossible to prevent copy using client side scripting such as JavaScript. It is also impossible to prevent copy without using a plugin (by installing a custom software) that interacts with the computer at system level system and "client-side" scripting does not nor ever will have the permissions to operate at that level. Anyone making claims to the contrary is preying on the user's and possibly their own naivety.

Today we have many different operating systems (OS), all of which fall into distinct family types such as Windows, Linux, Android, MacOS, etc. So designing a copy protection solution becomes most difficult and while it might be possible to provide plugins for all of these OS, in reality it is impossible because most either cannot support proper copy protection or are too unstable to survive a rollout, ie: by the time your user upgrades to the latest update that OS will more than likely be outdated.

In this day and age web browsers are no longer conservative. They no longer beta-test new versions before releasing them and one only has to look at Firefox and Chrome version numbers to realize that. In the world of software development, incrementing a minor version number (the last digit) means a minor revision that will be compatible with earlier versions. But incrementing the major version number (the first number) means a major revision and that it will not be compatible with earlier versions. The Firefox web browser was version 3 for many years and recently starting incrementing major version numbers every 1-3 months. At the time of writing this version 22 is the current web browser. Chrome is the same and as Firefox is funded mainly by Google, it is Google developers that control what happens with Firefox. Needless to say, both of those web browsers are exploited to the max; designed to exploit the user's privacy, support for Google search and apps and with absolutely no respect or consideration given to Copyright or intellectual property.

To be popular, web browsers are designed to make it easy for users to exploit the web.

Securing web page content in popular web browsers

There is no solution that will adequately protect content that can be used with all operating systems. Yes, there are solutions available for all OS but they have so many holes and they can be so easily exploited that you may as well not use protection. For example, how can anything be considered as being "protected" when all it takes is a click of the Print Screen button to capture an image of the whole page or part thereof?

However there are worthwhile solutions for Windows computers. ArtistScope, the founder of copy protection for the Internet and leading developer of DRM since 1998, provides the most secure copy protect solutions that are supported across all Windows versions since XP, 92% of all Internet users are supported. The remaining 8% is a mixture of OS, 2% of which are comprised of search engines and media grabbers.

The ArtistScope web browser plugin

ArtistScope provides a CopySafe Service that is second to none when it comes to preventing copy from all methods including Print Screen and screen capture. CopySafe Web was first released in 1999 and it is supported on all Windows computers. Site visitors can use their favorite web browser and to view protected web pages, they can download and install the plugin just like they would when encountering Flash for the first time.

Using CopySafe Web on your web pages

CopySafe Web is the most secure solution for displaying encrypted images and it is the encrypted image that activates the CopySafe plugin when it loads. Consequently any web page can be protected by simply adding a small CopySafe encrypted image and any media displayed on that page will also be protected. To apply CopySafe to a web page all one needs to do is add a few lines of HTML.

CopySafe is compatible with all types of web applications

CopySafe Web can be added to any web page regardless of which programming language is used for the page. If you are using a CMS and/or have limited HTML skills, ArtistScope provides a variety of free modules for integrating CopySafe Web with most popular CMS solutions: Secure web browser vs web browser plugin

The ideal solution for copy protecting web content is by not using any of the popular web browsers at all, but instead using a web browser that is specially designed to protect the content that it displays. Such a web browser needs to display generic web pages and media but without providing any options that can be used to save, print and copy the page or download any media displayed on that page.

Today there are a few custom web browsers available that claim to satisfy these requirements. Some are merely reskinned IE engines that still expose browser cache and some others have been designed to restrict some save and copy options. But the mistake that most custom browser developers are making is that they are trying to support all operating systems (OS) and that is where they fail because proper copy protection is not possible on Mac and Linux based OS.

Why undermine web security for the sake of 5% of users?

Although Mac users may disagree (because they tend to use sites recommended by other Mac users) usage logs from typical web sites indicate that Windows users make up for about 92% of their visitors. Of that remaining 8% only 5% are Mac users with the rest are made up of odd OS, search engines and spybots.

So for the sake of 5% of your site's visitors, why settle for a web browser that cannot be secure and cannot protect your media from piracy and plagiarism. Is that the business model that you want to invest in?

The most secure web browser

There is only one web browser that is safe from all methods and copy and save, and it is supported on all Windows OS since XP. Unlike pretentious "secure" browsers, the ASPS Web Reader provides:
  • Creates a secure tunnel between the web server and the user's computer.
  • Safe from packet sniffers even without the use of SSL.
  • Web pages cannot be viewed by any other browser or application.
  • Embedded media resources cannot be located in page source code.
  • No content or code can be retrieved from web browser cache.
  • All media is safe from file grabbers and downloaders.
  • Protects all media without requiring that media to be encrypted.
  • Pages cannot be printed unless allowed by the webmaster/designer.
  • Pages cannot be copied by using Print Screen to take a screenshot.
  • Pages and video cannot be screen recorded or captured.
  • Absolutely no options for copy and save.
Even when the page and media is on display in the web browser, nothing can be copied in any way... that is, without using a camera to take a photograph of the computer screen. The ASPS Web Reader, short for ArtistScope Site Protection System, is the most secure web browser and the only web browser that can effectively protect web page and media from all methods of copy and save.

The ArtistScope Site Protection System (ASPS)

ASPS is not just a web browser. Instead it is a server to browser solution that has been designed from end-to-end with copy protection in mind. Web pages assigned for use by the ASPS Web Reader are delivered in encrypted format from the server and they can only be decrypted by the ASPS Web Reader, thus creating a most secure tunnel between your site and your visitor. Intercepting this page is useless as it cannot be deciphered except by ASPS and it cannot be hacked.

ASPS is supported on all types of web servers

The ASPS filter can be installed on all Windows servers/computers running IIS since XP and all Linux servers.

ASPS is supported in all types of CMS and web applications

ASPS encryption does not affect the web application or programming language used to create web pages because it encrypts and delivers the page after it has been assembled by the server. So it doesn't matter if your website is based on Sharepoint, PHP, ASP.Net, Classic ASP or good old static HTML. Consequently any and all CMS applications like DotNetNuke, Drupal, Joomla, Moodle and WordPress can be run from a ASPS website.

Preparing a website for ASPS

No special treatment like encryption or conversion is required as the only preparation required is to add a line of HTML before the page's DOCTYPE statement. So to protect pages you add this tag and any pages not including that tag will not be protected and redirected to open in the user's default web browser. This way you can create doorway pages and leave sections of your site accessible to normal browsers and then most securely protect only those sections or pages that are critical to your mission.

Downloading and evaluating ASPS

The ASPS Web Reader can be downloaded from their demo site. After download, simply follow the links for "Guided Tour' to explore a variety of different media that can be protected by ASPS.

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