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posted by martyb on Sunday November 25 2018, @01:59AM   Printer-friendly
from the welcome-to-the-danger-zone dept.

Google and Mozilla are working together on a method to let web apps gain access to users' files.

A group led by Google and Mozilla is working to make it easy to edit files using browser-based web apps but wants advice on how to guard against the "major" security and privacy risks.

The idea is to allow users to save changes they've made using web apps, without the hassle of having to download new files after each edit, as is necessary today.

[...] the W3C Web Incubator Community Group (WICG), which is chaired by representatives from Chrome developer Google and Firefox developer Mozilla, is working on developing the new Writable Files API, which would allow web apps running in the browser to open a file, edit it, and save the changes back to the same file.

However, the group says the biggest challenge will be guarding against malicious sites seeking to abuse persistent access to files on a user's system.

"By far the hardest part for this API is of course going to be the security model to use," warns the WICG's explainer page for the API.

"The API provides a lot of scary power to websites that could be abused in many terrible ways.

What could possibly go wrong?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25 2018, @11:28AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25 2018, @11:28AM (#766132)

    Why would any site, anywhere, need _persistent_ access to files?

    No site should need persistent access to the file system, but I can see how this could be very appealing to the likes of MS Word, Adobe Creative Cloud, in-house/intranet web applications, etc.

    I think there are two different types of file access that need to be considered here:
    1. Local autosave
    2. Local read/write

    With restrictions to the amount of local browser storage I think #1 could be useful and (relatively) safe if each autosave directory was site-based (like cookies). It goes without saying that if a site gets infected your existing autosave files are fair game, though removing the autosave files after saving the document to "the cloud" (even sending the autosave files along with the saved document) would remove that security risk.

    I'm not sure how #2 can work safely, even with site-based whitelisted directories. If a site gets infected your documents are in a lot of danger.

    File access could make for some interesting browser extensions, but it also opens up a portal of doom. Perhaps this feature should be called "Pandora" instead of "Writable Files API"