Google Chrome may currently enjoy the numero uno position in the world of browsers, but it is starting to feel the pressure. The competition is heating up with its rivals like Microsoft Edge offering upgraded security features to lock in more users.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought extensive changes to the way people operate, which in turn, has created a need for securing remote workforces. Keeping this in mind, and that browser wars are mostly centered around privacy and security, Google has taken a stance to redesign and offer more intuitive features to keep their users protected from cyber attacks.
The Main Reason Why Google Chrome Had to Take Measures to Amp Up Security
Microsoft announced a feature called “Automatic Profile Switching” which enables users to separate their work and personal data.
For instance, if users navigate to a site authenticated with their work account whilst using their personal profile, Microsoft will prompt them to switch to their work profile to access the site. Moreover, Microsoft will detect this discrepancy automatically.
Understanding that users want to secure their online identity as tightly as possible, Microsoft is also working on developing features to make it easier for users to block web spam and avoid visiting insecure websites or download malicious files. In this update, Microsoft Edge will perform file or site checks against a database to determine its safety.
With these updates, Microsoft Edge might just become an excellent alternative for Google Chrome, which is why the latter had to do something to strike back.
The New Design and Features Offered by Google Chrome
With over 5 billion downloads, Google Chrome is more than a browser; it’s a major platform that lets users stay on top of everything with its regular additions and changes.
The ongoing pandemic forced Google to pause its Chrome releases. In the process, it delayed Chrome 81 and skipped Chrome 82. But the company was aware that to maintain its goodwill in the market; it had to come up with an equally effective update as Edge as soon as possible.
Hence, Chrome 83 is arriving early with a redesign that will make Chrome controls easier to find and understand thanks to simplified language and visuals.
Here’s a breakdown:
Improved Security and Privacy Through Optimal Cookies and Permissions Management
You should take the necessary measures to protect yourself from security and privacy breaches against unauthorized access, and the revamped Google controls let you do just that by giving you better control over cookies.
Cookies are basically trackers that follow your browsing movement, which Chrome will now let you manage easily. It will also block any third-party cookies, irrespective of whether you are in Incognito mode or not.
You see, when you enter Incognito mode, Chrome doesn’t save your browsing history, browser cookies, and any information you might have entered in forms. Chrome 83 will now automatically block third-party cookies within every Incognito session.
Should you want to permit third-party cookies for a site, you will have to click the ‘eye’ icon on the address bar. Keep in mind, though, that this feature isn’t available right away, but Windows, Android, Mac, and Linux will eventually support it.
Interestingly, it’s Google that is joining the blocking third-party cookies bandwagon just now. Mozilla had offered this feature in Firefox‘s private browsing mode back in November 2015, and in June 2019, it blocked third-party cookies by default in all browser sessions. In other words, the browser’s regular mode, as well as private mode, block third-party cookies by default.
A new section in Chrome will highlight your recent permissions activity, letting you find sensitive website permissions such as access to a camera, microphone, location, and notifications without any hassle.
“Clear browsing data” has now been moved to the top of the privacy and security section, while a “You and Google“ section is featured at the top of Chrome settings. You can use the latter to find sync controls that will give you complete control of the data you share with Google.
Safer Browsing Security and Privacy Along With Secure DNS in Chrome
Google has developed two security upgrades: Enhanced Safe Browsing and a Secure Domain Name System (DNS). And instead of setting these two upgrades to default, it gives you the chance to “opt in to” them.
Enhanced Safe Browsing will protect your data when you use Google apps like Drive or Gmail based on a holistic view of web-based threats against your Google account. It will proactively check downloads and pages to provide tailored protection from different types of phishing sites and malware. Google plans to add more protections to this model in the upcoming years, such as cross-product alerts and tailored warnings.
The Secure DNS feature will also enhance your browsing security and privacy. Whenever you open a website, this feature will use DNS-over-HTTPS to encrypt the step, which will prevent attackers from seeing the sites you visit. Hence, they won’t be able to redirect you to phishing websites.
Safety Check for Boosting Overall Security
Workplaces are steadily moving towards more flexible working schedules with the increasing reliance on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), as 86% of organizations are now reliant on SaaS for the bulk of their software needs. This also means that employees are using their own laptops, smartphones, PCs, and tablets to get the work done, which puts confidential data at a higher risk in case of breaches or cyber-attacks.
You might already be aware that you can ask Chrome to remember all your passwords, but with the new Safety Check feature, the browser can tell you which one of them has been compromised along with the solution to fix it. The browser also offers an extension called Password Checkup to safeguard your privacy by reporting password leaks and examining login credentials.
Additionally, the feature will also flag if Google‘s Safe Browsing service, which protects nearly 4 billion devices, is turned off.
The Safe Browsing feature needs to stay on since it provides you with a warning should you download a malicious app or visit a dangerous site. The service does this by providing lists of URLs that contain phishing content or malware to browsers like Chrome as well as Safari and Firefox and internet service providers (ISPs).
From the users’ perspective, this healthy competition between Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox can help them align their online security and privacy interests using the updates developed by the competitors.
Google is clearly doing everything it can to maintain its position as the leader in the browser market space. It will be interesting to see what features Chrome comes up within the next couple of years to stay ahead in the competition.
About the Author: Gary Stevens is an IT specialist who is a part-time Ethereum dev working on open source projects for both QTUM and Loopring. He’s also a part-time blogger at Privacy Australia, where he discusses online safety and privacy.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.