Date of Award

1-1-2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor William Hutchinson

Abstract

Malicious executable code is nothing new. While many consider that the concept of malicious code began in the 1980s when the first PC viruses began to emerge, the concept does in fact date back even earlier. Throughout the history of malicious code, methods of hostile code delivery have mirrored prevailing patterns of code distribution. In the 1980s, file infecting and boot sector viruses were common, mirroring the fact that during this time, executable code was commonly transferred via floppy disks. Since the 1990s email has been a major vector for malicious code attacks. Again, this mirrors the fact that during this period of time email has been a common means of sharing code and documents. This thesis examines another model of executable code distribution. It considers the security risks involved with the use of executable code embedded or attached to World Wide Web pages. In particular, two technologies are examined. Sun Microsystems' Java Programming Language and Microsoft's ActiveX Control Architecture are both technologies that can be used to connect executable program code to World Wide Web pages. This thesis examines the architectures on which these technologies are based, as well as the security and trust models that they implement. In doing so, this thesis aims to assess the level of risk posed by such technologies and to highlight similar risks that might occur with similar future technologies. ()_

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