Google Fixes 42 Flaws in Chrome 39 Browser

SSL 3.0 Fallback gets disabled as Google pays out $41,500 in awards to researchers for finding security vulnerabilities in the new browser release.

Chrome 39 flaws

Google is out with the Chrome 39.0.2171.65 browser stable release, fixing 42 security issues and, for the first time, providing 64-bit support for Apple Mac OS X users.

The Chrome 39.0.2171.65 stable release includes 12 security fixes that Google is rewarding researchers for reporting. In total, Google is paying researchers $41,500 for reporting security vulnerabilities that were fixed in the Chrome 39 release cycle. Google has been paying researchers for finding bugs in Chrome since 2010, and has paid out more than $1.25 million in award money since that time.

The largest single award that Google is paying out in the Chrome 39 release is $7,500 to a researcher identified only as "biloulehibou" for the CVE-2014-0574 vulnerability. That vulnerability is a flaw in Adobe's Flash player, which is directly integrated with Chrome. Adobe's advisory on the issue identifies it as a "double-free" vulnerability that could lead to code execution. According to the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), double-free vulnerability errors occur when a free variable is called more than once, with the same memory address as an argument.

The second highest award paid out in the Chrome 39 release is $5,000 to security researcher Chen Zhang from the NSFocus Security Team. Zhang is credited with the discovery of CVE-2014-7907, which is a use-after-free memory flaw in Chrome's Blink rendering engine. Google created Blink in April 2013 as a fork of the open-source WebKit rendering engine that is still used by Apple's Safari Web browser.

Zhang is also credited with the discovery of CVE-2014-7906, which is a use-after-free memory flaw in Chrome's Pepper plug-in interface. Pepper is a technology that Google launched in 2009 and is an evolution of the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI), for plug-ins. Zhang is being awarded $500 for the CVE-2014-7906 discovery.

The new Chrome 39 stable release is the first Chrome browser release to disable fallback support for SSL 3.0. The SSL 3.0 protocol is at risk from the POODLE vulnerability that Google researchers first publicly disclosed Oct. 14. While SSL 3.0 is an older protocol that has been replaced by the newer TLS 1.2 protocol, Chrome had previously included a fallback mechanism. With that fallback, if a Transport Layer Security (TLS) connection failed, the browser would revert or "fall back" to an SSL 3.0 connection.

Google had previously announced that Chrome 39 would be the first Chrome release to disable the fallback mechanism. Even though the fallback has been removed, SSL 3.0 support is still in Chrome 39. With the next release, Chrome 40, Google will entirely remove support for SSL 3.0 in its browser.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.