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A sandbox is a type of software testing environment that enables the isolated execution of software or programs for independent evaluation, monitoring or testing.
It is used for many purposes, such as developing new features, testing patches, identifying and squashing bugs, or detecting cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
In an implementation, a sandbox also may be known as a test server, development server or working directory. It should not be confused with sandbox in the context of gaming.
As one of the most common software testing techniques, a sandbox is useful in environments with one or more simultaneously operating software programs.
A sandbox creates an operational environment in which the execution, operation and processes of software testing is not affected by other running programs. To allow for repeated use or subsequent testing session, the sandboxing environment can be reformatted quite easily.
The idea is to be able to test new code or features in ideal conditions without affecting the environment or platform on which they are ran. Typically, the source code of sandboxed software is not tested prior to isolation, which reduces unexpected behavior.
A sandbox environment is also created to mimic a production environment and its behaviors to test the functionality of newly-developed APIs. This way, third-party app developers may check and validate their code by testing it against a specific web service from the sandbox.
In the Java programming language, sandboxing is a major feature of the development environment. Programmers can use a specific sandbox area with its own rules to create new applets that are then sent as part of a web page.
Additionally, the sandbox technique is implemented in information security to evaluate suspicious software or files containing malicious code.
An isolated environment is hosted on a network to simulate a real-world scenario where a malicious actor tries to breach the cybersecurity defenses.
Once the malicious code is run inside this environment, its behavior is analyzed to understand its functioning without harming any device or spreading across the network.
The sandbox environment is isolated so that anything that occurs inside there stays there while vulnerabilities are assessed.
Sandboxing can be used for marketing purposes to demonstrate the features of a product to leads and customers. A sandbox program can be used instead of a sales demo or a virtual proof-of-concept (POC) to let a prospect test the product in a much more interactive or engaging way.
It can also be used to let clients explore dummy features before they a new functionality is fully implemented to allow for further customization according to their needs.
A sandbox is used to optimize and identify issues and limits before they escalate to ensure the quality of the final product before it is delivered.