Google issues major warning for 2 billion Chrome users

Photo (c) Savusia Konstantin - Getty Images

Users should regularly check for updates to see if a patch is available

Google has put 2 billion Chrome users on high alert that its browser has suffered “zero-day” exploits that “exist in the wild” and affect Apple, Linux, and Windows systems. This is the ninth such attack so far this year.

In order to buy itself some extra time so users can upgrade to a safer version of Chrome, Google’s Srinivas Sista said the company is limiting access to bug details and links “until a majority of users are updated with a fix.” 

What Chrome users need to do ASAP

To get ahead of the situation for the short term, Google has released a critical update. Gordon Kelly, a Consumer Tech specialist at Forbes, says the company tends to roll out updates in a staggered fashion, so not everyone will get the notice at the same time. 

To check if you are protected, you can take these steps:

  • Click on the vertical three-dot icon in the upper right-hand part of your Chrome browser.

  • Then, go to Settings > Help > About Google Chrome.

  • If your Chrome version is 94.0.4606.71 or higher, then consider yourself safe. If your version is below that number, make it a point to check at least once a day to see if there’s an upgrade.

  • If the update is not yet available for your browser, check regularly for the new version.

Are there safer browsers than Chrome?

One of the reasons many people use Chrome is because the integration between Google Docs, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Calendar, G-Mail, their Android devices, etc. makes things easier. But cybersecurity watcher Zak Doffman says Google’s latest issue should give users some serious pause.

“If you’re one of those users, this nasty new surprise just gave you a reason to quit,” he wrote following the announcement of the latest Chrome issue.

Do consumers have other decent choices? Doffman says yes. There’s Apple’s Safari, DuckDuckGo, Mozilla Firefox, and a fairly new browser called Brave. Each of those browsers tries to upset Google’s apple cart by placing an extra emphasis on privacy. In Brave’s case, it automatically blocks both ads and website trackers as part of its default settings. 

Even though Google announced it was phasing out third-party tracking cookies in its Chrome browser earlier this year, Doffman is still championing a different browser. 

“While it’s Firefox, DuckDuckGo and Brave that most vocally push the browser privacy agenda, it’s really Safari that has done the best job of exposing Chrome’s avaricious data harvesting machine at scale,” he wrote.

Even though much of Apple’s recent press has been about its new iPhones, Doffman says the company’s recent Safari update is a “genuine game changer” for privacy and security because of the addition of a new privacy weapon called Private Relay. 

“Put simply, this breaks the identity chain between you, the websites you visit and the ISP through which you access the internet,” he explained.

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