Google has announced that an update to its popular Chrome browser for Android and iOS is arriving this week, bringing a slew of new security enhancements aimed at protecting users from hacking and phishing attacks.
Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the various measures that have been put into place to mitigate the spread of the virus, there has been a dramatic increase in online traffic in recent months. Millions of people all over the globe have been forced to work remotely, and millions more have turned to online shopping as going to a physical store is not easy or advisable in many parts of the world.
At the same time, there has been an almost proportionate rise in cyberattacks, with hackers recognizing that increased digital transactions mean more points of vulnerability.
During the past several months, security experts from around the world have pointed to outdated security modalities like PIN/Passwords as points of vulnerability. This has led to a growth in the popularity of biometric authentication, as biometric data is much more difficult (though not impossible in all cases) to steal or fake when compared to passwords and usernames.
In lieu of biometric authentication, experts at least caution better ‘password hygiene’, which is essentially the practice of using better, more secure passwords and avoiding the practice of ‘password recycling.’
With this latest Chrome update, Google appears to have been listening to these warnings. When retailers and other online services suffer security breaches, it’s often the case that people’s usernames and passwords are the most coveted prize, as hackers can reuse them for other services in many cases due to password recycling.
This should in large part be addressed with the Chrome 86 update for iPhone and Android users, as users will be notified if their username/password combination has been compromised, and the OS will go so far as to direct them to the page where they can reset it, avoiding the dangerous possibility that the decision to do so be delayed.
The update also brings the Enhanced Safe Browsing feature to Android users, which can proactively protect users from phishing, malware attacks and dangerous websites.
Finally, iPhone users will be able to authenticate the password auto-filling feature in Chrome using their devices’ biometric systems (either Face ID or Touch ID, depending on which iPhone is being used), a feature that was introduced for Chrome’s Android users in August of this year.