Security (and other) Improvements in Google Chrome

Category: Browsers

The latest version of Google’s Chrome browser was released from beta testing on October 17. It contains some nifty new features that will make using the Web safer, faster, and more fun; but mostly, safer. Read on to see what’s new in Chrome 62…

Chrome 62 is More Secure

One of the upgrades is so important that it was actually rolled out a few days before Chrome 62’s release. It improves and simplifies the use of Chrome Cleanup, a feature of Chrome that helps users recover from browser hijackings. For the first time in Chrome, Cleanup can also remove unwanted software hidden in downloaded files.

PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) are things such as those annoying toolbars that may be hidden in or bundled with downloaded packages of software that you actually do want. Quite often when downloading a program, there's a bit of small print asking if you want to install another. The checkbox that indicates “yes” is already checked, so you get these tag-alongs if you're not diligent.

The list of PUPs is constantly expanding. So Google has partnered with ESET, one of the better antimalware software developers, to detect even the latest PUPs, offer to remove them, and restore any settings they may have changed. (See also my related article Do You Need a PUP Cleaner?)

Chrome new anti-malware features

Note that this improved version of Chrome Cleanup is available only on Windows machines. Let me stress that Chrome Cleanup is not a fully fledged anti-malware suite, so you should not uninstall your primary security software.

Some browser extensions change Chrome settings in ways that vex users and make money for bad guys; this is called “hijacking” the browser. Changing your default search engine and/or startup page may cause you to inadvertently go to a page that injects malware into your system, or one that bombards you with so many ads that Chrome becomes unusable. But now, when Chrome detects that settings have been changed without your consent, it offers to restore the settings to their original values.

Hit the Reset Button

You can also manually reset by going to chrome://settings/resetProfileSettings. A popup window will appear, displaying this explanation of the “reset” option:

“This (clicking the “Reset” button) will reset your startup page, new tab page, search engine, and pinned tabs. It will also disable all extensions and clear temporary data like cookies. Your bookmarks, history and saved passwords will not be cleared. Learn more" If you want to change other settings, just hit “Cancel” to see the Chrome settings page.

Disabling all of your Chrome extensions will ensure that any unwanted or malicious extensions are prevented from operating, but it might go a bit too far for some users. If you use this reset option, I'd advise you to visit your Chrome Extensions page to see if there are any extensions that you do want to re-enable.

HTTPS Everywhere

Google has campaigned for years to get all website developers to implement encrypted HTTPS connections, protecting users’ data as it flows back and forth over the Internet. In January of this year, Chrome began flagging sites with a “Not Secure” tag at the left side of the address bar if the user was prompted to enter password or credit card data in a form. With Chrome 62, the flag appears whenever any type of data is requested by a form. Also, the “Not Secure” tag appears the moment you open an unencrypted connection to a site in an incognito window, even if there is no form on a page.

Before 2014, only about 50% of sites implemented HTTP encryption. After Google warned webmasters that unencrypted HTTP connections would adversely affect a site’s Google Search rankings, use of HTTPS expanded; today, about 75% of sites use encrypted connections. With these changes in Chrome 62, Google is further pressuring sites to implement HTTPS.

More to Come

Other new features in Chrome include OpenType Variable Fonts, a Network Information API, and a really cool Ambient Light Sensor API. These features can make a site load faster and look better, if its developers implement the Chrome features.

OpenType Variable Fonts provide more options for displaying fonts. The Network Information API can inform a site of a user’s actual connection speed, so a faster-loading page can be sent to the user if s/he is on a slow connection. The Ambient Light Sensor API allows sites to adapt to a user’s ambient light intensity, so sites will be easier on the eyes. I assume this feature makes use of the camera or other sensors in a smartphone or laptop, so it may not work on old-school desktop PCs. In any case, these are potential features; it’s up to web developers to implement them.

Chrome 62 will be pushed to all Chrome users over the next few weeks. If you want it right now, click on the three-dots icon in the upper-right corner of Chrome’s window, hover the cursor over Help, and then click on “About Google Chrome.” Chrome will automatically check for available updates and install Chrome 62. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 18 Oct 2017


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Most recent comments on "Security (and other) Improvements in Google Chrome"

Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
18 Oct 2017

This article is hilarious. Chrome preventing hijacking by other bowsers and protecting from PUPs yet Google loves to try to sneak Chrome onto people's computers via PUPs in program installation files where it then it hijack's the existing default browser.

I trust anything from Google as far as I can spit upwind in a stiff breeze.


Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
18 Oct 2017

Further confirmation that my decision to switch to Chrome years ago was the right one.


Posted by:

Joan
18 Oct 2017

I tried the directions for getting the upgrade, and Chrome would only go to "Version 61.0.3163.100 (Official Build) (64-bit)" I guess I have to wait for 62.


Posted by:

Mac 'n' Cheese
18 Oct 2017

Joan, I wasn't able to get the upgrade either. Perhaps they've rolled out the 32-bit version, and haven't yet released the 64-bit browser. So we wait! ...

Mac


Posted by:

Paul
18 Oct 2017

@Joan I just did the update check and the upgrade installed - new version is Version 62.0.3202.62 (Official Build) (64-bit)


Posted by:

Mac 'n' Cheese
18 Oct 2017

Lady Fitzgerald, perhaps I visit different sites than you visit, but I've never had Google "try to sneak Chrome onto people's computers via PUPs in program installation files where it then it hijack's the existing default browser."

Perhaps the VENDOR of the program you were downloading is the villain. Maybe they were using Chrome to carry out their skulduggery.

Of course, I don't know for sure. But I couldn't help but wonder if there might be an alternative explanation for the unfortunate experiences you've had.

Mac


Posted by:

Mac 'n' Cheese
18 Oct 2017

Paul, thanks for sharing your experience. I just retried the update, and I now have "Version 62.0.3202.62 (Official Build) (64-bit)," too.

Joan, if this is an important update for you, I'd try it again, and then daily until you get version 62. (You may even get a later version than Paul and I got!)

Mac


Posted by:

Nezzar
18 Oct 2017

Bob, Thanks much for the info on Chrome. I use it all the time and have no complaints with it at all.


Posted by:

Therrito
18 Oct 2017

@Lady Fitzgerald LMBO! :-D

@Bob I'll stick with my Firefox. :-)


Posted by:

Mikey
18 Oct 2017

Chrome removed my download manager because it hadn't come from the Google store. When I got it again, this time from the Google store, they removed it again. Sigh.

No thanks. I'll stick with Firefox.


Posted by:

Richard Dengrove
19 Oct 2017

I did have someone hijack my browser. It was someone trying to get a bounty from Yahoo. I figured out how to reset Chrome and the Yahoo was gone both as the home page and default browser. Google apparently got rid of the pesky PUP which wanted to place them back on.


Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
19 Oct 2017

@Mac'n'Cheese Google is the one committing the skullduggery. Google pays software developers to include in their software installation files the PUP that install Chrome and, usually, Google Toolbar, onto people's computers.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Proof? Examples? I hear this kind of accusation regularly, but never any supporting data.


Posted by:

wyrmrider
19 Oct 2017

update did not work for me twice however going to the download page did


Posted by:

wyrmrider
19 Oct 2017

tried to sign up for the newsletter however "refused to connect"
tracking?
redirection?
spyware???


Posted by:

Stephe
19 Oct 2017

I'm with above — there is a shameless irony in Chrome implementing something to prevent your being hijacked by pre-selected tick boxes — I am forever unticking boxes "Yes, please install Chrome and make it my default browser!"

I suppose they work on the reasonable assumption that most Chrome users have had experience of this sort of behaviour and find it intensely annoying...


Posted by:

RandiO
19 Oct 2017

Oh, Noooooooooooo! Not that argument again:
"EDITOR'S NOTE: Proof? Examples?"
I keep seeing posts from some that refuse to be entangled with Google-anything but some keep insisting that it is the best thing since sliced bread.
Could it be that you are recommending 'Google' wares (email, browser) because it NOW provides more [better?] security, yet you are turning a blind eye to other people's desire/concern for PRIVACY?
Afterall, google is in the business of peddling all our collective meta-data that have made them what they are. Why does anyone need 'proof/examples' to not want to walk like a duck or talk like a duck? The refusniks are the ones that are still on the bridge watching those who have already jumped off.
Maybe it has come time to stop endorsing this giant elephant in the room and discuss other more pertinent information for all of us who otherwise are your ardent supporters/followers?


Posted by:

jphuf
20 Oct 2017

The statement by recent Poster: "Maybe it has come time to stop endorsing this giant elephant in the room and discuss other more pertinent information for all of us who otherwise are your ardent supporters/followers?"

Maybe Bob should ask this person for his/her permission prior to posting his "endorsing" products?

At that stage I would no longer be one of his "ardent supporters/followers".

In my opinion, Bob does a very reasonable &
important (unpaid) job of informing and/or warning us "ardent supporters/followers" of products, procedures, apps, and all the misc PC info out there.

I do not feel that he is "endorsing", but is giving only his educated & research opinions for us his "ardent supporters?followers" to decipher for ourselves.

Thank You, Bob!


Posted by:

Phillip Reed
20 Oct 2017

Now if Chrome could make it easy so that I can see the map in Google Maps by using a "restore." I can switch to the Satelite version, but not see the regular map when I switch back still. I have to go to Bing to see an actual map with the same URL. I'm using this latest edition of Chrome and I was hoping it would solve this mystery.


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
23 Oct 2017

Boy, you can tell that I am days behind on my emails!


Without reading the whole article - I checked on which Chrome version I had. When I first looked - It was version 61 - Then I saw some movement - Lo and behold, Chrome was downloading the update! It asked me to relaunch and I did. Viola! I now have Chrome version 62 for my Windows 10 Pro 64Bit.


I have been using Chrome for a long time now. At this point in my life, I am 73 - I really don't care what Chrome wants from me. I have good security on my PC. I routinely do normal maintenance, like cleaning out Internet Temp. Files, so forth and so on - Then I do a defrag. About once a month I do a defrag and optimizing, does that action really help? I don't really know, but I think it does and I do it.


I also, periodically open up the PC case and blow out the dust bunnies that accumulate, check the fans and clean them, this means the CPU fan, too, make sure everything is snug and fitting well, and then I look for things that I might need to upgrade. For me, this is normal activity.


I have good security protection. I use a good solid AV program Avast Free, Malwarebytes Premium, GlarySoft Utilities, CCleaner Pro, Defraggler or Disk Speed Up. I also use Unchecky and I LOVE it!!! That little program has really saved me lots of unwanted issues in programs trying to install by themselves.

Please check out Unchecky - It truly is an awesome program. I found out about Unchecky from one of Bob's articles.


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