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 Saul Gorn Memorial Lecture, 2013  


Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The Saul Gorn Memorial Lecture Series was established in honor of the late Professor Saul Gorn who played a key role in the establishment of the Computer Science Graduate Group in the Moore School, which later became the Department of Computer and Information Science.

The Department of Computer and Information Science and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science
are proud to present distinguished lecturer.


John C. Mitchell
Mary and Gordon Crary Family Professor Professor of Computer Science and (by courtesy)
Electrical Engineering
Stanford University

Date:Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Time: 3:00 - 4:15 pm


Wu & Chen Auditorium

101 Levine Hall


 "JavaScript and Web Security: Isolation and Communication in the Programmable Web"


The World Wide Web is our most important distributed computer system. In the modern web, pages seen by viewers contain executable programs from many sources, loaded into the browser in increasingly complex ways. This complexity is an important part of the advertising infrastructure, for example, allowing advertising companies to pass information between them and effectively auction off a portion of the user’s screen to the advertiser most interested in reaching that individual. Maps, games, and other apps are also served through sites that do not know what they do or how they work.

In this environment, it is important to allow web designers and site developers to write sophisticated programs that run in end-user browsers. At the same time, some programs may maliciously try to steal information, or worse. Therefore, separate programs from separate sources must be allowed to run, communicate with each other, but not carry out malicious attacks. Over the last several years, we have studied this problem and developed methods for isolating communicating JavaScript programs. Our methods prevent attacks we found on widely used commercial sites and are provably secure, using methods from the mathematical theory of programming languages.  In addition, these approaches are relevant to mobile security, because approximately three-quarters of current Android apps use an embedded “browser” to interact with web sites.


John Mitchell is the Mary and Gordon Crary Family Professor in the Stanford School of Engineering, Professor of Computer Science, and Vice Provost for Online Learning. His research in computer security focuses on cloud security, mobile and web security, privacy, and network security. He has also worked on programming language analysis and design, formal methods, and applications of mathematical logic to computer science. Prof. Mitchell currently leads research projects funded by the US Air Force, the Office of Naval Research, private companies and foundations; he is the Stanford Principal Investigator of the multidisciplinary TRUST NSF Science and Technology Center and Chief Computer Scientist of the DHHS-funded SHARPS project on healthcare security and privacy. He is a consultant and advisor to companies and the author of over 150 research  articles and two books.





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