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Despite what it might look like this is a serious question. After that story with Android OS and Chrome browser submitting to Google the details of the WiFi access points they see in the neighborhood which has nothing even remotely to do with their main function I'm inclined to expect everything. But the specific question I have today concerns the following matter.

The situation. I'm developing a web application running on a locally installed web server. Naturally I'm testing and debugging it on the same development machine in various browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome. The development machine has a permanent connection to the Internet.

Now. Is there any situation or circumstance when any of those browsers would take it upon itself to send the opened web pages from http://localhost:port/* to its company or any other third party? For now I seriously suspect if there is a browser crash or an OS crash the browser would submit a report perhaps with the content of my HTML, CSS and JavaScript. What if a browser would submit pages used actively and opened over a prolonged period of time just out of the company's curiosity - what is this nasty programmer working on?

Can you confirm that hypothesis? Are you aware of any other situations when a browser would sent out a local resource details? How safe is it to develop on a machine with a permanent Internet connection?

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Isn't sending crash reports optional? (Not that it really is optional...) –  Jeremy Heiler May 13 '11 at 17:00
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Even if they did, it's a bit like the NSA cell-phone taps. So much noise, so little signal. The chances of them seeing your app (or caring if they did) are infinitesimal. –  Rein Henrichs May 13 '11 at 17:05
    
If you are viewing the application on your localhost and unless you make the application accessible from outside your network, even if they were given the page itself it wouldn't be your code. It would be displayed page within the browser, so html and data. –  Ramhound May 13 '11 at 18:50
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You're fine as long as you're using a reputable browser (as opposed to one of those weird add-tabs-to-IE6 knockoffs that were floating around years ago). If any browser did that (and people would find out eventually) it would be a public relations nightmare far beyond the Android thing. People check their bank accounts in browsers, look at photos (family and otherwise), view company secrets covered by NDA. These same browsers probably display top secret government and military documents too.

I don't think Google, Mozilla or Microsoft is interested in your webapp. :)

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+1 people with far more reason to be justifiably paranoid have essentially vetted these browsers for you. –  Rein Henrichs May 13 '11 at 17:04
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Is there any situation or circumstance when any of those browsers would take it upon itself to send the opened web pages from http://localhost:port/* to its company or any other third party?

Yes. Lots and lots of situations in which this could possibly happen.

The actual probability is zero.

But there are situations where it could happen.

Did you, for example, check all your MD5 signatures for the browser and every piece of software on your system?

Didn't check every signature? Could be big trouble brewing.

What if a browser would submit pages used actively and opened over a prolonged period of time just out of the company's curiosity - what is this nasty programmer working on?

Right. What if.

Can you confirm that hypothesis?

Never. They are very sneaky.

Are you aware of any other situations when a browser would sent out a local resource details?

Yes. When your system has a keylogger installed.

When your system has been the victim of a man-in-the-middle attack.

When your system has other malware installed on it.

How safe is it to develop on a machine with a permanent Internet connection?

You are never safe if you have the time to worry about that kind of thing.

You can never be sure of anything unless you physically remove the wire.

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...and watch out for the black helicopters! /me activates tinfoil hat! –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner May 13 '11 at 17:44
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