Running web apps from the desktop: Port 80 now does everything

Mozilla and Adobe are both developing (separately) tools to allow web applications to run on the desktop (ie no visble browser). More can be found at the Mozilla Prism announcement and Mike Chambers’ article critiquing it from the perspective of Adobe AIR.

So far, so geeky. What caught my attention though was a comment by ‘Pete’ (no relation) on Mike Chambers’ article:

The major issue IMO is that somehow the internet has been confused with port 80, and so for some bizarre reason people seem to think that networked apps have to run in a browser – my suspicion is that it stems from bonehead security thinking (port 80 ::= HTTP ::= harmless, anything else ::= unknown ::= risk) making developers such as myself attempt to pervert HTTP to do things it was never intended for.

Right on! Looks like port-based blocking on firewalls is coming to the end of its useful life, if it hasn’t already.

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About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
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