Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Oregon published some findings on their work with cloud browsers, which could become interesting services for anonymous web browsing.
According to William Enck, assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research, said that cloud browsers function just like normal web browsers, but create their interface and run all computational tasks entirely in the cloud.
The concept has attracted more interest due to the fact of increasing privacy concerns and an opportunity to provide an anonymous browsing platform. But since cloud browsers are powered by resources of data centers, the researchers found that they can be exploited to do much more than just browsing. For example, the scientists were able to "perform standard computation functions using data packets that were 1, 10 and 100 megabytes in size".
To achieve this goal, the researchers stored data packets on bit.ly and "other URL-shortening sites", and then passed the resulting "links" between various cloud browsers. The data could have been much larger," Enck said, "but we did not want to be an undue burden on any of the free services we were using."
Providers of cloud browsers could prevent the illegal exploitation of computation resources by requiring user accounts as well as service limitations, which, however, would also eliminate the advantage of anonymous web browsing.