Scientists from UCL, Stanford Engineering, Google, Chalmers and Mozilla Research have built a new system that protects Internet users’ privacy whilst increasing the flexibility for web developers to build web applications that combine data from different web sites, dramatically improving the safety of surfing the web.
The system, ‘Confinement with Origin Web Labels,’ or COWL, works with Mozilla’s Firefox and the open-source version of Google’s Chrome web browsers and prevents malicious code in a web site from leaking sensitive information to unauthorised parties, whilst allowing code in a web site to display content drawn from multiple web sites – an essential function for modern, feature-rich web applications.
Testing of COWL prototypes for the Chrome and Firefox web browsers shows the system provides strong security without perceptibly slowing the loading speed of web pages. Following its announcement today, COWL will be freely available for download and use on October 15 from http://cowl.ws. The team who developed it, including two PhD students from Stanford (working in collaboration with Mozilla Research) and a recently graduated PhD from UCL (now employed by Google), hope COWL will be widely adopted by web developers.
The research team describe COWL in a paper published in the Proceedings of the 11th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation.
Co-author Professor Brad Karp (UCL Computer Science) said: “COWL achieves both privacy for the user and flexibility for the web application developer. Achieving both these aims, which are often in opposition in many system designs, is one of the central challenges in computer systems security research.
The Latest on: Web privacy system
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The Latest on: Web privacy system
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