Chrome Security Update: Google Polishes Web Browser With New Fixes

Google’s latest browser update — Chrome 47 — is now available to the public. In addition to a number of new developer features and the removal of its little-used Notification Center, the new Chrome version 47.0.2526.72 also includes a significant security update, according to Google’s official blog. Here’s a quick rundown.

Big Money

Chrome is now the go-to browser for more than 1 billion consumers. As VentureBeat pointed out, this makes it “arguably more than a browser”; in effect, it’s a major Web platform used by corporations, developers and ordinary users alike. In fact, the release of Chrome 47 spurred a US-CERT alert recommending that users and admins check out the official release and apply the update.

Much of the new Chrome browser focuses on security improvements: Google paid out over $100,000 in bug bounties to security researchers — both credited and anonymous — for helping track down critical vulnerabilities that were addressed in the release, VentureBeat reported.

Chrome 47 also comes with news that Google plans to phase out its support and security update offerings for the 32-bit Linux version of Chrome in March 2016. While the browser will still work, no fixes will be designed for this legacy code after Q1 2016.

A Quick Breakdown

According to SecurityWeek, more than a dozen “serious vulnerabilities” were reported by outside researchers to the Google security team. The search giant’s lucrative bug bounty program may have something to do with this number and the willingness of white-hat hackers to share their findings. Some of the top fixes include:

  • CVE-2015-6765, 6766 and 6767: This trio of use-after-free vulnerabilities in AppCache grabbed the biggest payout at $31,337 for “one or more anonymous researchers.”
  • CVE-2015-6768, 6769, 6770 and 6772: Discovered by Mariusz Mlynski, these four cross-origin bypass flaws in DOM earned him just over $30,000.
  • CVE-2015-6764: Guang Gong of security firm Qihoo 360 first reported this out-of-bounds access issue at the Mobile Pwn2Own competition in Toyko. He earned $7,500 after Google staffers verified his findings and developed a fix.
  • CVE-2015-6771, 6773, 6774, 6775, 6776 and 6777: This collection of out-of-bounds access issues in V8, Skia, PDFium; use-after-free flaws in Extensions and DOM; and type confusion in PDFium earned various researchers between $3,000 and $7,500 each.

Medium-security issues included integer overflows in Sfntyl, content spoofing in Omnibox and signature validation problems in Android Crazy Linker. In addition, Google’s internal security team identified and squashed a number of bugs on its own.

A Valuable Security Update

While many of the vulnerabilities haven’t been described in complete detail yet — researchers are giving Google time to ensure the issues have been fully addressed — it’s safe to say that Chrome 47 is one of the most security-focused updates in recent memory. Focused enough, in fact, that ZDNet argued the fixes alone “should be enough to justify the update if users have intentionally turned off automatic updates in Chrome.”

Chrome 47 is a polished, security-minded update from Google, one that focuses on the company’s effort to move forward with better support and bug detection even as it leaves behind older versions of the browser. For users that have skipped the last few updates or don’t like the intrusiveness of automatic downloads, 47 is one worth grabbing and installing ASAP.

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Douglas Bonderud

Freelance Writer

A freelance writer for three years, Doug Bonderud is a Western Canadian with expertise in the fields of technology and...