Gazelle relies on a ‘browser kernel’ that could offer far greater security than Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, or Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer
Gazelle also aims to limit the dangers posed by programming flaws in browser plug-ins. Plug-ins are small bits of code that enable other programs to run within a browser, but they’ve also been known to contain vulnerabilities that can allow a PC to be hacked.
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In Gazelle, the plug-ins are sandboxed, or isolated from the rest of the system, so that a bad plug-in would only affect the particular Web page’s plug-in process and not the whole PC.
But one huge problem with Gazelle’s approach is that existing plug-in code would have to be rewritten or ported to interact with Gazelle’s browser kernel system calls. That’s difficult since plug-ins are written by a wide variety of software vendors whose development schedules don’t necessarily work in perfect sync with those of browser developers.
In compatibility tests, Gazelle correctly rendered 19 of the top 20 sites ranked by Web survey firm Alexa. The paper warns that the new security of Gazelle does introduce “performance overhead” — especially for sites such as the New York Times Web site — but further work should be able to make it faster.