Category Archives: Google

Chrome 59.0.3071.86

With thirty security fixes in Chrome 59.0.3071.86, I would expect Google to emphasize the need for users to update as soon as possible. Instead, the release announcement says “This will roll out over the coming days/weeks.” Presumably Google feels that the fixed security issues are too obscure to represent any imminent threat.

To be fair, personal experience has shown that Chrome is great at detecting updates, often very soon after they become available. Visiting the About page is usually enough to trigger an update. Click the three-vertical-dots menu button, then choose Help > About.

If you have several hours to kill, you might want to check out the change log for Chrome 59.0.3071.86, which by my count contains 10,911 entries.

Google’s new Chrome ad blocker raises questions

Google is giving web advertisers until the end of the year to comply with the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads, after which a new ad-blocker in Chrome will start blocking non-compliant ads.

This raises some interesting questions.

Google is the biggest provider of advertising services on the web. Will Google block ads from its own platform if they don’t meet the new standards? That scenario, while interesting to ponder, is unlikely to occur, since Google’s ad creation tools will presumably prevent it.

If Google’s ads are unlikely to be blocked, won’t this be viewed as anti-competitive behaviour by other advertisers? Google will point to the independent standards set up by the CBA, but will that be enough? Less-reputable advertising providers — those allowing the sorts of ads Google wants to block — stand to lose significant revenue. These days it doesn’t take much to trigger a lawsuit, and Google is a favourite target for litigation, because it has enormously deep pockets.

From the user perspective, Chrome’s new ad blocker will be purely beneficial. Opera already has a built-in ad blocker, and it’s likely that the other major browser makers are working on similar features. But there are weird times ahead for Google.

Google improves GMail security

I’ve tried other search services, but I always end up back at Google, because the search results are consistently better. Google does collect information about its users, and uses that information to target advertising. Google also looks at the content of GMail messages for the same reason. If that bothers you, there are ways to prevent it, or you can stop using Google’s products and services.

That said, in all my years of using Google’s services, I’ve never encountered anything that made me want to stop using them. Google does occasionally annoy me by dropping services like Reader, and Google’s advertising is ridiculously overpriced, but on balance the company provides far more benefit than any potential harm.

For example, Google spends enormous amounts of time and resources on making the web safer for everyone. Much of that effort goes unheralded, but occasionally we catch glimpses in the form of blog posts, like this one, describing recent improvements to GMail security. Compare that with Yahoo’s recent track record, which clearly shows that user security and privacy are not a priority at that company.

Chrome 58.0.3029.96

A single security fix is the only change mentioned in the release announcement for the latest version of Chrome.

The change log contains forty-one changes, of which about twenty-five are minor bug fixes.

Chrome is pretty good about updating itself, but since this version includes a security fix, you should probably make sure by checking: three-dot-menu > Help > About Google Chrome. This will usually trigger an update if one is required.

Chrome set to flag more sites as ‘Not Secure’

Google’s efforts to make the web a safer place include the recent addition of a Not Secure indicator in Chrome’s address bar for sites that are not using HTTPS encryption.

Up to this point, that indicator only appears when a web page includes boxes for entering passwords or credit card information. In the near future, Chrome will expand the conditions in which sites are flagged as Not Secure. In October, Chrome 62 will start flagging as Not Secure any unencrypted web page that includes any data entry boxes, and all unencrypted pages accessed while Chrome is in Incognito mode. Eventually, Chrome will flag all unencrypted pages as Not Secure.

If you use Chrome, you’ve probably noticed that it also flags encrypted sites as Secure. This is misleading, since all it means is that the site is using HTTPS encryption. It doesn’t imply that the site is safe to use, only that it is using an encrypted connection. A site flagged as Secure can still be dangerous to visit, for example if it contains malware. Wordfence’s Mark Maunder recently wrote about the danger of assuming Chrome’s Secure flag means ‘safe’.

Chrome 58.0.3029.81

The change log for Chrome 58.0.3029.81 is ten thousand items long, so you might want to think twice before clicking that link. It’s probably safe to say that there are no new features or major changes in the new version, since nothing of the kind is mentioned in the release announcement. This is an important update, though. That’s because it includes fixes for twenty-nine security flaws.

Chrome seems to update itself on most computers within a day or so of a new release, but you can usually trigger an update by opening the browser’s menu (the three-vertical-dots icon at the top right) and navigating to Help > About Google Chrome.

Chrome 57.0.2987.98

The latest version of Chrome includes fixes for thirty-six security vulnerabilities.

There are numerous other changes in Chrome 57.0.2987.98. Google didn’t see fit to highlight any of them in the release announcement, so you’ll have to read the browser-annihilating change log to see if any of the changes are of interest. I’m not planning to do that myself, as it’s likely to take several hours, and unlikely to be particularly rewarding.

Chrome updates itself on its own mysterious schedule, but you can usually trigger an update by going to its ‘About’ page. Because this version includes security updates, you should try to update Chrome as soon as possible.

Update 2017Mar16: Ars Technica points out that Chrome 57 includes power saving features that should extend battery life for Chrome users on laptops.