|By Sam Johnston||
|September 15, 2008 06:50 AM EDT||
Rather than blathering on to the blogosphere about the superficial features of Google's new Chrome browser I've spent the best part of my day studying the available material and [re]writing a comprehensive Wikipedia article on the subject which I intend for anyone to be free to reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license (at least this version anyway) rather than Wikipedia's usual strong copyleft GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). This unusual freedom is extended in order to foster learning and critical analysis, particularly in terms of security.
My prognosis is that this is without doubt big news for cloud computing, and as a CISSP watching with disdain at the poor state of web browser security big news for the security community too. Here's why.
Surfing the Internet today is like unprotected sex with strangers; Chrome is the condom of the cloud
The traditional model of a monolithic browser is fundamentally and fatally flawed (particularly with the addition of tabs). Current generation browsers lump together a myriad trusted and untrusted software (yes, many web sites these days are more software than content) running in the same memory address space. Even with the best of intentions this is intolerable as performance problems in one area can cause problems (and even data loss) in others. It's the web equivalent of the bad old days where one rogue process would take down the whole system. Add nefarious characters to the mix and it's like living in a bad neighbourhood with no locks.
Current generation browsers are like jails without cells
Chrome introduces a revolutionary new software architecture, based on components from other open source software, including WebKit and Mozilla, and is aimed at improving stability, speed and security, with a simple and efficient user interface.
The first intelligent thing Chrome does is split each task into a separate process ('sandbox'), thus delegating to the operating system which has been very good at process isolation since we introduced things like pre-emptive multitasking and memory protection. This exacts a fixed per-process resource cost but avoids memory fragmentation issues that plague long-running browsers. Every web site gets its own tab complete with its own process and WebKit rendering engine, which (following the principle of least privilege) runs with very low privileges. If anything goes wrong the process is quietly killed and you get a sad mac style sad tab icon rather than an error reporting dialog for the entire browser.
Chrome enforces a simple computer security model whereby there are two levels of multilevel security (user and sandbox) and the sandbox can only respond to communication requests initiated by the user. Plugins like Flash which often need to run at or above the security level of the browser itself are also sandboxed in their own relatively privileged processes. This simple, elegant combination of compartments and multilevel security is a huge improvement over the status quo, and it promises to further improve as plugins are replaced by standards (eg HTML 5 which promises to displace some plugins by introducing browser-native video) and/or modified to work with restricted permissions. There are also (publicly accessible) blacklists for warning users about phishing and malware and an "Incognito" private browsing mode.
Tabs deplace windows as first class citizens and can migrate between them like an archipelago of islands
Just add Linux and cloud storage and you've got a full blown Cloud Operating System ("CloudOS")
What is perhaps most intersting though (at least from a cloud computing point of view) is the full-frontal assault on traditional operating system functions like process management (with a task manager that allows users to "see what sites are using the most memory, downloading the most bytes and abusing (their) CPU"). Chrome is effectively a Cloud Operating Environment for any (supported) operating system in the same way that early releases of Windows were GUIs for DOS. All we need to do now is load it on to a (free) operating system like Linux and wire it up to cloud storage (ala Mozilla Weave) for preferences (eg bookmarks, history) and user files (eg uploads, downloads) and we have a full blown Cloud Operating System!
Note: Predicted based on return codes (403 Forbidden vs 404 Not Found), should be live in a few hours.
- Official site (http://www.google.com/chrome)
- Open Source code (http://code.google.com/p/chrome)
- WebRTC Summit at Cloud Expo Agenda Announced
- Google’s Enterprise Problem
- Building Video Calling with PubNub and WebRTC
- DataStax Announces New Startup Programme Offering Free Software, As Well As Free Training Courses For Cassandra Users And New Developer Tool
- Evaluation Report on Virtual Backup Software
- Get Ready to Think Out (C)loud With Cloud Sherpas’ Upcoming Webinar Series
- Series: Exchange 2013 and Lync 2013 Integration with AsteriskNOW PBX Pt. 1
- New PubNub App Template for WebRTC
- Strategic Enough to Matter, Code Halos and Mobile Apps
- GAMA : Quatre acteurs clefs, quatre stratégies différentes !
- Box and NSI Partnership Brings the Cloud to Businesses in the Middle East
- The Verizon Motorola Droid Maxx Review – Strongly Love/Hate It
- WebRTC Summit at Cloud Expo Agenda Announced
- OneLogin Raises $13M to Power Expansion
- Cloud Security Alliance Releases Cloud Controls Matrix, Version 3.0
- Survey Finds Large Enterprises Adopting WebRTC
- WebRTC Summit | WebRTC: Test then Disrupt
- WebRTC Summit Speaker Submissions Open
- BMC Software to Exhibit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley
- WSO2 Expands Identity Management Capabilities Across Cloud, Mobile and Web Applications With the Launch of WSO2 Identity Server 4.5
- Twilio and LiveOps to Deliver WebRTC Deployments
- Oracle Demonstrates WebRTC Solution with CounterPath's Bria
- OpenStack for the Enterprise – Showcasing the OpenStack Ecosystem
- XIRSYS Launches WebRTC Hosting Service
- Where Are RIA Technologies Headed in 2008?
- The Top 250 Players in the Cloud Computing Ecosystem
- Dolphin Announces Open API With Over 50 Add-ons Including Dropbox and Wikipedia
- Personal Branding Checklist
- AJAXWorld 2006 West Power Panel with Google's Adam Bosworth
- Why Microsoft Loves Google's Android
- Google's OpenSocial: A Technical Overview and Critique
- Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers Now Open
- Wal-Mart To Sell $399 Ubuntu Linux-based Laptop with Google Operating System
- i-Technology Blog: Google Trends on Java, McNealy, AJAX, and SOA Give Pause For Thought
- i-Technology Blog: Is There Life Beyond Google?
- Android: Who Hates Google Over the Phone?