Who Can an Applet Talk To?

By default an applet can only open network connections to the system from which the applet was downloaded. This system is called the codebase. An applet cannot talk to an arbitrary system on the Internet. Any communication between different client systems must be mediated through the server.

The concern is that if connections to arbitrary hosts were allowed, then a malicious applet might be able to make connections to other systems and launch network based attacks on other machines in an organization's internal network. This would be an especially large problem because the machine's inside a firewall may be configured to trust each other more than they would trust any random machine from the Internet. If the internal network is properly protected by a firewall, this might be the only way an external machine could even talk to an internal machine. Furthermore arbitrary network connections would allow crackers to more easily hide their true location by passing their attacks through several applet intermediaries.

HotJava, Sun's applet viewer, and Internet Explorer (but not Netscape) let you grant applets permission to open connections to any system on the Internet, though this is not enabled by default.

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Copyright 1997 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified August 1, 1997