Mighty brings browser streaming with all new privacy concerns - The UpStream

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Mighty brings browser streaming with all new privacy concerns

posted Sunday May 2, 2021 by Scott Ertz

Mighty brings browser streaming with all new privacy concerns

Over the past few years, a lot of companies have attempted to prove the game streaming is a possibility. And, many companies have failed - until recently. Microsoft, Google, and NVIDIA each have a successful game streaming service that allows players to run the games remotely on a powerful gaming computer and only output the video to your computer. This concept was inevitably going to lead to other parts of the industry running similar experiments. The newest entry in this space is Mighty, a browser that runs remotely.

The concept is far from new. In the mid-2000s, before smartphones were common, Opera Mini was available for flip phones and smartphones alike. The browser rendered most content locally, but rendered Adobe Flash content remotely, streaming it to devices that did not support Flash. That concept is being expanded with Mighty, taking all browser rendering off-device and into the cloud.

Of course, the idea of pushing rendering off-device has a lot of appeal. We spend a lot of time in our browsers, and they tend to perform poorly. Chrome chunks up on memory quickly. Safari seems to find itself more useful closed than open. Edge has its new browser growing pains. Allowing all of the hard work to be done on a powerful machine is really attractive, especially when that machine is super powerful. The computers doing the rendering in this case have dual Intel Xeon processors with up to 16 vCPUs, 16 GB or RAM, and NVIDIA GPUs. Plus, you can likely use this method to get around content blockers at school and work.

But there is still a major problem with this idea: privacy. Because all of your web browsing is done through a remote server, it provides an even bigger potential for abuse than through a proxy. While a proxy or VPN handles your traffic, Mighty has the ability to capture all of your keystrokes, including passwords and credit card numbers. This is required for anything like validators to function, so they couldn't NOT behave this way.

Clearly, this behavior introduces a major source of data theft, as well as mishandling of data. When even the biggest brands have mishandled data or had major breaches, opening oneself up to this kind of attack surface seems unlikely. Perhaps, for features and services of low risk this could be a nice option, but it is not recommended to use it for anything of value.

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