Vancouver is just all about the games these days; to much fanfare, they had the Winter Olympics last winter; and halfway through the year, they had a great hacking contest for the greatest talent from around the world – the Pwn2Own. And their challenge was – to try the most innovative ways to hack into every major browser on earth. They were not to use any known loopholes in the code in those browsers. They had to discover all-new ones – what are known as Zero-day vulnerabilities. The contest offered cash prizes of $10,000 to anyone who could find vulnerabilities in the major browsers. And the winners also got to carry home the computers that they used to hack into the browsers. No one ever got to know how the two-year-old Google browser, Chrome, did at all.
The Google browser’s reputation is so formidable these great hackers did not even attempt it. As for the other browsers, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox, they offered rich pickings for the hackers. They all failed really quickly. Does this mean that not even the world’s most fearsome hacking talent can get into Chrome? Is it really that unbreakable?
The Google browser Chrome really is very strong as far as security is concerned. However, Chrome has a small market share – less than 10%. It’s the way the Mac OS is always boasting about how the lack of viruses for it is a sign of a very healthy OS design. While the Mac OS is healthy, the fact that no one seems interested in designing a virus for it is more a sign of its lack of market share than of the health of the OS. When these talented hackers come in, they find it more worth their time to break into a major browser. Chrome with such a small market share, hardly does justice to their hard work is the feeling.
But of course, Chrome uses a very superior approach that makes attacking it a completely different ballgame. The Google browser came on the market long after the internet matured. Google was completely aware of the kind of difficulties the Internet can offer to the safety-conscious. For this reason, their unique design involves putting most of Google’s coding in what they call a sandbox. Chrome runs all commands on a virtual machine that has minimal contact with the main hardware of the user. Other browsers can only design safety features that they have experience with. Chrome, with its all-new approach, can stop attacks no one has ever seen before. It’s a design that hackers have little experience with, and they don’t have to work this hard either working on other browsers.
Actually, Internet Explorer is the only other browser out there that does anything similar. But they call it their Protected Mode. And it’s something that you have to turn on; it isn’t on by default. Another difference between Chrome and other browsers is that Chrome uses a simple push-type update system. You don’t have to update the browser; it updates itself. Taking control completely out of your hands, the Google browser is safer any day.