If you’re working in an IT organization that has relied on virtual desktops but looking to get rid of them, we have some good news: starting today, you can connect your users to your private network via isolated remote browsers. This means you can deliver sensitive internal web applications — reducing costs without sacrificing security.
Browser Isolation with private network connectivity enables your users to securely access private web services without installing any software or agents on an endpoint device or absorbing the management and cost overhead of serving virtual desktops. What’s even better: Browser Isolation is natively integrated into Cloudflare’s Zero Trust platform, making it easy to control and monitor who can access what private services from a remote browser without sacrificing performance or security.
Deprecating virtual desktops for web apps
The presence of virtual desktops in the workplace tells an interesting story about the evolution of deploying and securing enterprise applications. Serving a full virtual desktop to end-users is an expensive decision, each user requiring a dedicated virtual machine with multiple CPU cores and gigabytes of memory to run a full operating system. This cost was offset by the benefits of streamlining desktop app distribution and the security benefits of isolating unmanaged devices from the aging application.
Then the launch of Chromium/V8 surprised everyone by demonstrating that desktop-grade applications could be built entirely in web-based technologies. Today, a vast majority of applications — either SaaS or private — exist within a web browser. With most Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) users connecting to a remote desktop just to open a web browser, VDI’s utility for distributing applications is really no longer needed and has become a tremendously expensive way to securely host a web browser.
Browser Isolation with private network connectivity enables businesses to maintain the security benefits of VDI, without the costs of hosting and operating legacy virtual desktops.
Transparent end-user experience
But it doesn’t just have a better ROI. Browser Isolation also offers a better experience for your end-users, too. Serving web applications via virtual desktops is a clunky experience. Users first need to connect to their virtual desktop (either through a desktop application or web portal), open an embedded web browser. This model requires users to context-switch between local and remote web applications which adds friction, impacting user productivity.
With Browser Isolation users simply navigate to the isolated private application in their preferred web browser and use the service as if they were directly browsing the remote web browser.
How it works
Browser Isolation with private network connectivity works by unifying our Zero Trust products: Cloudflare Access and Cloudflare Tunnels.
Cloudflare Access authorizes your users via your preferred Identity Provider and connects them to a remote browser without installing any software on their device. Cloudflare Tunnels securely connects your private network to remote browsers hosted on Cloudflare’s network without opening any inbound ports on your firewall.
Monitor third-party users on private networks
Ever needed to give a contractor or vendor access to your network to remotely manage a web UI? Simply add the user to your Clientless Web Isolation policy, and they can connect to your internal service without installing any client software on their device. All requests to private IPs are filtered, inspected, and logged through Cloudflare Gateway.
Apply data protection controls
All traffic from remote browsers into your network is inspected and filtered. Data protection controls such as disabling clipboard, printing and file upload/downloads can be granularly applied to high-risk user groups and sensitive applications.
Connect your network to Cloudflare Zero Trust
It’s ridiculously easy to connect any network with outbound Internet access.
Engineers needing a web environment to debug and test services inside a private network just need to run a single command to connect their network to Browser Isolation using Cloudflare Tunnels.
Enable Clientless Web Isolation
Clientless Web Isolation allows users to connect to a remote browser without installing any software on the endpoint device. That means company-wide deployment is seamless and transparent to end users. Follow these steps to enable Clientless Web Isolation and define what users are allowed to connect to a remote browser.
Browse private IP resources
Now that you have your network connected to Cloudflare, and your users connected to remote browsers it’s easy for a user to connect to any RFC 1918 address in a remote browser. Simply navigate to your isolation endpoint, and you’ll be connected to your private network.
For example, if you want a user to manage a router hosted at
http://192.0.2.1, prefix this URL with your isolation endpoint such as
That’s it! Users are automatically served a remote browser in a nearby Cloudflare data center.
Remote browser connected to a private web service with data loss prevention policies enabled
At this point, your users can connect to any private resource inside your network. You may want to further control what endpoints your users can reach. To do this, navigate to Gateway → Policies → HTTP and allow / block or apply data protection controls for any private resource based on identity or destination IP address. See our developer documentation for more information.
Additionally, isolation policies can be defined to control how users can interact with the remote browser to disable the clipboard, printing or file upload / downloads. See our developer documentation for more information.
Logging and visibility
Finally, all remote browser traffic is logged by the Secure Web Gateway. Navigate to Logs → Gateway → HTTP and filter by identity or destination IP address.
We’re excited to learn how people use Browser Isolation to enable remote access to private networks and protect sensitive apps. Like always, we’re just getting started so stay tuned for improvements on configuring remote browsers and deeper connectivity with Access applications. Click here to get started with Browser Isolation.