Google's Chrome browser has been outfitted with a number of security features meant to put it on par with or above rival browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox. Chrome officially stops being a beta Dec. 11.
Google Chrome browser is no longer a beta,
and has been outfitted with a
coat of security armor Google
hopes will both protect users and help Chrome
compete with rival browsers.
The toughest piece of that armor involves sandboxing. In Chrome,
Running each tab in Chrome in a sandbox allows Web applications to be launched
in their own browser windows without the ability to write or read files from
sensitive areas. Plug-ins are run in separate processes that communicate with
"I think Google was very proactive in terms of what we've been doing
around trying to help prevent users from being infected with malware,"
said Ian Fette, security product manager for Google. "On the Web browser,
we're trying to do everything we can to make sure that users are not becoming
affected with malware, and a big part of that is the sandboxing
Calling it a second level of defense, he said the technology is designed to
prevent malware from persisting even if there is a flaw in the code that would
lead to the Web browser being compromised.
"It's designed to prevent malware from getting installed on the system,
from being able to start again when you close the browser and restart the
computer; it's designed to help prevent malware from being able to read files
on your file system ... it's really a defense-in-depth mechanism," Fette
As noted on the Google
however, there are some limitations. Since it depends on
Windows, there is the possibility of a flaw in the operating system security
model itself. Another issue is that some legacy file systems used on
certain computers and USB keys, such
as FAT32, don't support security descriptors. Files on those devices
can't be protected by the sandbox, according to the blog.
In addition, if a third-party vendor configures files, registry keys and
other objects in a way that bypasses the access check-the mechanism by which
the system determines whether the security descriptor of an object grants the
rights requested to an access token-it can give everyone using the machine full
In addition to the sandboxing, Google has outfitted Chrome with a number of
security features similar to those of Internet Explorer, such as Incognito
mode. Like IE 8's InPrivate Browsing, Incognito mode allows users to hide their
Web surfing histories, and no cookies are stored beyond the lifetime of a
"Incognito mode is designed to reduce the amount of data that gets
stored on your computer; it's not designed to provide, for instance, anonymous
browsing," Fette said. "When you go into Incognito mode you are
essentially saying, 'Everything I do in this browser window, please don't
record that on my computer once [I] close off that window.'"
Chrome also takes a blacklisting approach using Google's SafeBrowsing API
to protect users against known malicious sites.
"I think the biggest advantage that we have is
that Chrome is the first browser built from scratch after bad guys started
exploiting other browsers," opined Google Engineering Director Linus
Upson. "We've had the luxury of looking at the security problems other
browser vendors have had, and designing around those from the very beginning."