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Third USENIX Conference on Object-Oriented Technologies (COOTS), 1997

Resource Access Control for an Internet User Agent

Nataraj Nagaratnam
Dept. of ECE
Syracuse University

Steven B. Byrne
JavaSoft, Inc.
Sun Microsystems


The rapid increase in the Internet's connectivity has lead to proportional increase in the development of Web-based applications. Usage of downloadable content has proved effective in a number of emerging applications including electronic commerce, software components on-demand, and collaborative systems. In all these cases, Internet user agents (like browsers, tuners) are widely used by the clients to utilize and execute such downloadable content. With this new technology of using downloadable content comes the problem of the downloaded content obtaining unauthorized access to the client's resources. In effect, granting a hostile remote principal the requested access to client's resources may lead to undesirable consequences. Hence it is important for the browsers to provide a framework such that the user can fine tune his system according to his trust relationship with the content authors. Currently available systems either do not allow the downloaded content to access any of the local resources or allows all the contents to have the same privileges. In this paper, we present the design and implementation of a model that provides resource access control of a finer granularity for an user agent. Using our model, the client will be able to selectively grant access to resources based on a trust relationship with the principal, who has certified the authenticity of the contents.
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