Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2012

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Abusing Cloud-based Browsers for Fun and Profit

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Vasant Tendulkar
North Carolina State University
United States

Joe Pletcher
University of Oregon
United States

Ashwin Shashidharan
North Carolina State University
United States

Ryan Snyder
University of Oregon
United States

Kevin Butler
University of Oregon
United States

William Enck
North Carolina State University
United States

Abstract:
Cloud services have become a cheap and popular means of computing. They
allow users to synchronize data between devices and relieve low-powered
devices from heavy computations. In response to the surge of smartphones
and mobile devices, several cloud-based Web browsers have become
commercially available. These ``cloud browsers'' assemble and render Web
pages within the cloud, executing JavaScript code for the mobile client.
This paper explores how the computational abilities of cloud browsers
may be exploited through a Browser MapReduce (BMR) architecture for
executing large, parallel tasks. We explore the computation and memory
limits of four cloud browsers, and demonstrate the viability of BMR by
implementing a client based on a reverse engineering of the Puffin cloud
browser. We implement and test three canonical MapReduce applications
(word count, distributed grep, and distributed sort). While we perform
experiments on relatively small amounts of data (100 MB) for ethical
considerations, our results strongly suggest that current cloud browsers
are a viable source of arbitrary free computing at large scale.

 

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