Google will terminate Google+ for individuals in the near future. The service will continue to exist for organizations, which presumably includes what Google calls ‘brand accounts’. But for anyone who bought into Google’s hype about the social media service, this is a major disappointment.
Just ask Mike Elgan, one of the more prolific Google+ contributors. In two recent posts, Mike expresses his profound disappointment with Google’s tendency to create new services, coerce people into using them, and then kill those services. I know all about this, having been a victim of Google’s rug-pulling shenanigans myself.
The rationale for Google’s decision to kill Google+ is the discovery of a huge hole in one of its programming interfaces (APIs). Apparently any developer using this API had access to Google+ user data beyond what was supposedly allowed. Lucky for Google+ users, hardly anyone was using this API, just as hardly anyone was using Google+. Anyway, Google fixed the hole back in March but didn’t tell anyone about it.
Okay, Google. This one doesn’t hurt me very much, as my use of Google+ is limited to parroting posts from my blogs to associated brand accounts. I’ll keep the brand accounts around, but I won’t be expanding my use of them. Fool me once… actually, I’ve lost track of how many times this has happened.
Another new version of Chrome was released earlier this week: 69.0.3497.100. Although the change log lists twenty-eight total changes, none of them appear to be particularly interesting. Google highlights a single security fix in the release announcement.
You can check whether your install of Chrome is up to date by navigating its menu (click the three-vertical-dots button at the top right) to
About Google Chrome. If it’s not current, doing this will usually prompt Chrome to update itself.
The latest Chrome, released on September 11, fixes a pair of security vulnerabilities in the browser. The release announcement for Chrome 69.0.3497.92 does not mention any other changes. There’s a mercifully brief change log, and all the changes appear to be relatively minor.
If Google’s planned “roll out over the coming days/weeks” isn’t fast enough for you, click Chrome’s ‘three dots’ menu button, and select
About Google Chrome. If you’re not already up to date, this will usually prompt Chrome to update itself.
The release announcement for Chrome 69.0.3497.81 says the new version “contains a number of fixes and improvements.” Google hasn’t bothered to highlight any of those, which means it’s up to us users to figure out what has changed by reading the change log. Oh well, sounds easy enough. Until you notice that the change log has 15890 entries. Yeesh.
Google does provide useful information about the forty security fixes in Chrome 69.0.3497.81. They range from Low to High in terms of Severity.
As with most Google desktop software, Chrome will silently update itself in the background when it gets around to it. It’s possible to disable Google’s automatic update software, but doing that can cause other problems, so it’s not recommended. If you want to encourage Chrome to update itself — not a bad idea considering the security fixes — you can point the browser to chrome://settings/help.
Update 2018Sep07: If you’re using Chrome 69.0.3497.81, you may have noticed something different in the address bar: some common subdomains — particularly
www. — are no longer displayed. It looks like this change was not particularly well tested, and it’s causing problems for some users and sites. Here’s the associated bug report.
The latest version of Chrome includes fixes for forty-two security vulnerabilities. It’s also the first version that will display Not Secure in the address bar for all non-encrypted web pages. When that indicator appears, traffic to and from the viewed page is not being encrypted.
Viewing a non-encrypted web page is not particularly risky, as long as no private information is being transmitted. That means user names, passwords, email addresses, credit card numbers, and so on. However, as discussed here previously, unencrypted sites open up a world of possibilities for intercepting and modifying web traffic.
The release announcement for Chrome 68.0.3440.75 provides additional details regarding the security issues addressed.
The simplest way to update Chrome is also the best way to determine which version you’re running: click the three-vertical-dots icon at the top right, then select
About Google Chrome. If your browser isn’t already up to date, this will usually trigger an update.
A new version of Google’s web browser was announced on June 12. Chrome 67.0.3396.87 (change log) is a bug fix release; a single security vulnerability is addressed. Check your version by navigating Chrome’s menu to
About Google Chrome.
The latest version of Chrome includes a fix for a single security vulnerability with High severity.
The change log for Chrome 67.0.3396.79 includes a few dozen changes, but none that Google considered worth highlighting in the release announcement, aside from the single vulnerability.
To check your Chrome version, click the vertical-ellipses icon at the top right of its window, then select
About Google Chrome. If an update is available, it will usually start downloading automatically.
Yesterday’s release of Google Chrome brings its current version number to 67.0.3396.62. The new version is mostly about security fixes: there are thirty-four in all, none of which are flagged with Critical severity.
The change log for Chrome 67.0.3396.62 is a monster, listing 10855 changes in all. Don’t try viewing that page with an older computer or browser.
Google hasn’t seen fit to highlight any of the changes in Chrome 67.0.3396.62 in the release announcement, other than mentioning that Site Isolation may or may not be enabled. Site Isolation is a new security feature that’s being rolled out in stages.
As usual, the new Chrome version “will roll out over the coming days/weeks.” If that’s too vague for you (it is for me), an update can usually be triggered by navigating Chrome’s menu (the vertical ellipses icon at the top right) to
About Google Chrome.
Microsoft and Google just announced a new CPU speculative execution flaw that’s similar to Spectre and Meltdown: Speculative Store Bypass.
As with Spectre and Meltdown, almost all CPU chips made in the last ten years are affected by this issue.
The Verge: Google and Microsoft disclose new CPU flaw, and the fix can slow machines down.
Bruce Schneier thinks there are more speculative execution flaws coming. And he’s probably right.
Intel has decided not to produce Spectre microcode updates for some of the oldest of their affected CPUs, leaving most Core 2 chips without any hope of a Spectre fix. As for first generation CPUs, some will get updates, and some will not. Microcode updates for all CPUs from generation 2 through generation 8 have already been released.
Not sure whether your computer is affected by Spectre? If you’re running Windows, Gibson Research’s free InSpectre tool will tell you what you need to know. Looking for a Spectre BIOS update for your computer? PCWorld’s guide is a good starting point.
Intel has produced new microcode for most Spectre-affected CPUs, but some manufacturers have yet to provide corresponding BIOS updates for all affected motherboards. They may have decided not to bother developing updates for older motherboards. That’s a potential problem for millions of computers running older CPUs that are new enough to be vulnerable to Spectre. If the manufacturer hasn’t released a BIOS update with Spectre fixes for your motherboard, consider contacting them to find out when that’s going to happen.
Update 2018May24: I contacted Asus about a particular desktop PC I happen to own, and was told that “details on whether or not there will be a Spectre BIOS update for the <model> is [sic] currently not available.” That doesn’t sound very encouraging. It feels like they’re waiting to see how many complaints they get before committing resources to developing patches.
The latest version of Chrome fixes four security bugs. The Chrome 66.0.3359.170 release notes and change log have additional details.
Check your version of Chrome by clicking that three-dot (vertical ellipses?) icon at the top right, and selecting
About Google Chrome from the menu.
Of course, while keeping Chrome up to date is a good way to protect yourself from browser-based malware, you should also be careful when using extensions. Even Google-approved extensions obtained from the Chrome Web Store may contain malware. Recently, as many as 100,000 computers running Chrome were infected with malware hidden in seven different extensions from the Chrome Web Store.