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Whatever your online needs, it can be challenging to feel safe on the internet—with so many threats from hackers, scams, and phishing schemes in the mix. We use the internet for everything from banking to doing our taxes to keeping up with friends on social media, which means there is no shortage of data for fraudsters to get their hands on. This only intensified with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, where we suddenly spent a lot more time indoors, sharing that much more of our everyday lives online. With that in mind, it's important to keep yourself protected, so you'll want to pay attention to an urgent warning from Google about a popular web browser. Read on to learn what you need to do to keep yourself and your information safe.
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As reported by Forbes earlier this week, there were multiple hacks of Google's browser, Chrome. Google released a statement on its official blog on Monday, confirming 11 total hacks—nine of which are categorized as "high" threats, and two of which are categorized as "medium." These hacks put you at risk if you use Chrome on any platform, whether you are a PC/Windows user, an Apple/Mac fan, or if you're loyal to the Linux desktop.
Google did not release specific details about the hacks, writing in the blog announcement that "access to bug details and links may be kept restricted until a majority of users are updated with a fix." Forbes stated Google keeps specifics "top secret," thereby "buying users time to protect themselves."
If you are one of the 3.2 billion Chrome users, you will need to update your browser in order to keep yourself safe. Google released the update 100.0.4896.88 for all three platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux), "which will roll out over the coming days/weeks," the announcement stated—meaning it's not yet available to all users. If the update is available to you, you may see "Update" highlighted in green in the top right corner of your browser window.
If you don't see that, Forbes advises checking manually for the update. You can do this by clicking the three dots in the top right corner, clicking "Help," then "About Google Chrome." The system will bring you to a page to check for updates and instruct you to relaunch Chrome in order to finish updating. This is a vital step, Forbes cautions, as you won't be safe unless Chrome is restarted after updating.
In a March 2022 blog post written by Adrian Taylor of the Chrome Security Team, Google let users know there was a rise in "zero-day attacks." These are cyber attacks that are able to get out "in the wild" before Google can remedy them, Forbes reported in March.
"While the increase may initially seem concerning, it's important to understand the reason behind this trend," Taylor said. "If it's because there are many more exploits in the wild, it could point to a worrying trend. On the other hand, if we're simply gaining more visibility into exploitation by attackers, it's actually a good thing!"
Taylor further added these attacks have other positives, namely that they provide an opportunity for Google to respond with bug fixes faster, as well as to better understand attackers. Taylor highlighted four reasons for the exploits, including hackers launching more attacks, Chrome becoming a bigger target for hackers, more complex systems leading to more bugs, and the fact that bugs are (unfortunately) just a part of software in general.
Google is working to tackle these issues, but Taylor noted, "We are well past the stage of having 'easy wins' when it comes to raising the bar for security," adding that fixes are "long-term projects with significant engineering challenges."
At the end of the day, you need to be diligent in securing your system as well, as Chrome is unable to automatically protect itself, according to Forbes. And while Google's security is the strongest it's been, "there is no room for complacency," the magazine notes.
Be sure to stay on top of browser updates to protect yourself and your information, Taylor said, stressing, "If Chrome is reminding you to update, please do!"
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