The balance between convenience and security has always been precarious in the online world. And it’s on the offside of this that hackers live, waiting to take advantage of any weaknesses they can find. Where better to look, then, than the world’s most popular browser? Google Chrome’s popularity relies on the convenience it provides but its price – or rather its users – pays is safety.
Flaws in the Code Create Vulnerabilities
Google engineers shared an unprecedented amount of inside info in a recent ZDNet article, in which they describe how unsafe Chrome really is. Right now, Chromium (which Chrome, Edge, Opera, and others are built on) is built with C and C++.
The issue is that those old programming languages “don’t come with restrictions or warnings to prevent or alert developers when they’re making basic memory management errors,” the engineers said. Those errors then result in Google applications being released with vulnerabilities that the engineers aren’t necessarily aware of until some hacker takes advantage of them.
This is a massive problem because those coding errors result in about 70% of the high severity security bugs Chrome has had in the last 5 years. Considering the number of people and businesses that use Chrome every day, that puts billions at risk.
Extensions Provide Juicy Weak Points For Hackers
One of the realities of the web is that wherever people congregate, hackers will inevitably follow. Because that’s where the big data and money is. Chrome is a perfect example of this because of its immense popularity.
One of the convenience-related reasons that people choose Chrome is its comprehensive list of extensions. Those extensions are, unfortunately, also one of the things that make Chrome less secure.
Extensions get removed all the time – after it comes to light that they were created or exploited by malicious entities. Some spread malware while others are used to siphon off data like people’s login credentials. The latter is also one reason why no one should ever save their passwords on a browser like Chrome.
However, the problem is that these extensions often don’t get detected until it’s too late and some (or a lot) of damage has been done. This is why Google needs a better vetting system, and why people need to properly scrutinize extensions before choosing to install them.
Great Alternative Browsers
Chrome may be convenient, but it isn’t the only great browser out there. Here are 3 safer alternatives:
Firefox creator Mozilla also developed Rust, a security-focused programming language. The company has been working on integrating it into Firefox for the last few years now. On top of that, Firefox is open-source, which is a massive boon to security and privacy-conscious users.
That’s because the browser is built by a community of thousands of developers and can be overseen by many more. This makes it much easier to keep the project accountable (make sure they’re doing what they say). It also makes it much easier to spot bugs and coding errors, as so many people are constantly checking up on the code.
The Edge browser may also be Chromium-based, but Microsoft is working hard to change that. The company has already announced that they’re working on adopting Mozilla’s Rust programming language.
Looking for more privacy in addition to better security while browsing online? Then Brave is a solid choice. This privacy browser blocks harmful ads and trackers and is also open-source.
Of course, the browser can’t hide anyone’s IP/identity. Anyone who’s ever Googled “how to hide my IP” will know that a VPN is the best solution for that. So if someone’s looking at using Brave with the intention of gaining better privacy on the web, then it’s best to do it along with a VPN. Though the browser still works perfectly fine on its own and will afford users more privacy than many other browsers.
Chrome may not be the worst browser, but it’s not a fantastic option for security. Google is always working to improve the browser’s security, and the latest version adds some impressive safety enhancements. But there are still glaring issues that aren’t going to be fixed soon – when people need to be safe right now. Thankfully, there are security-focused alternatives that everyone should consider, especially since more and more people are working from home.