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Client-side Executable from Server-side script

Posted on 1997-06-25
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Last Modified: 2013-12-25
I'm using Perl 5 on IIS 2.0 w/ NT 4.0 and am having trouble
getting my server-side CGI script to launch an executable
on the client system, that resides on the client system.
Can perl/cgi handle this ?  Is it a job for Java ?
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Question by:ericzim
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mkornell earned 100 total points
ID: 1828570
This isn't an issue about Perl, CGI, but about security.

In general, having the server being able to start an executable on the client side is a huge security no-no.  Imagine if you went to my server, and clicked on a link which sent a file, any file, to your machine, then executed it.  I could destroy your hard drive before you could say "I love the Web!"

Netscape made big news last week when a bug was discovered in their browser which allowed something like this to happen.

Java is generally considered the answer if you must have the client end do some sophisticated processing.  (JavaScript or VBScript could also be considered for less sophisticated client-side tasks).  However, Java applets are limited in what kind of access they have to the client's hardware -- a Java applet cannot read from or write to the client's hard drive, for example.

HTH,--mark;
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by:ericzim
ID: 1828571
Thanks for the quick reply, Mark.
Yes, I could see the security risk you presented, but the
solution I'm looking for will be implemented on a tightly
controlled Intranet scenario, where mutiny by the server
should be a fairly low probability.

On the technical side, would the Applet HTML tag potentially
do the trick ??
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Expert Comment

by:mkornell
ID: 1828572
There's no way to bypass the built-in security precautions.

You could write a Java applet, and load that, if you can live with the limitations imposed on Java applets.

Other possibilities are to write ActiveX controls (if you're using IE) or Netscape-style plug-ins.  These do allow you to do anything you like on the client machine.

--mark;
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