Google Chrome is getting more secure with new cookie controls, anti-fingerprinting protection, and anti-history manipulation
During yesterday’s Google I/O 2019 keynote, security and privacy – besides AI – were among the principle cursors for most of the announcements. The ability to go Incognito in Google Maps and Search commanded a lot of attention, but aside from this functionality, Google also introduced new features to customize your ad preferences, manage your activity on the web, as well as a reminder to revoke location access from apps. Besides these developments, Google is also bringing improvements to Google Chrome to secure your web browsing and counter abusive techniques used by certain websites that hinder your experience online.
Separating same site and cross-site cookies in Google Chrome
Firstly, Google Chrome is getting a couple of features that will improve the management of cookies. Cookies are used to track your preferences for a particular website including passwords and subscription details as well as your usage across the internet to show you ads contextual to your browsing. To manage cookies more effectively, Google is adding a “SameSite” attribute that will allow web developers to differentiate between cookies generate on their website versus those generate on other sites. By drawing this line, your sensitive information such as login details will be safe with the website you trust and will not be transmitted over to other websites. At the same time, clearing your cookies will not remove your passwords or other settings for websites.
Google will also add controls in Chrome’s settings so that users can see how different websites are using their cookies. The feature will also include “simpler controls for cross-site cookies” and these might add the ability to manually delete cookies.
Stricter measures against fingerprinting
Aside from this, the Chrome browser will prevent websites from creating fingerprints of your devices. Fingerprinting is the umbrella terms for techniques that are used to create reference models of a user’s unique browsing pattern and this model can be used for a highly personalized ad targetting even if cookies are later turned off. What this new implementation will do is take strict action against fingerprinting, primarily by reducing the ways in which browsers can be fingerprinted. Both the improved ways of controlling cookies better will be available later this year but Google has not shared any specific deadline.
Google Chrome browser will also get better at blocking “history manipulation” tactics, which prevent you from leaving a page even after pressing the Back button multiple times (by redirecting you to the same page every time you try going back). Chrome will silently flag the websites that use such measures to manipulate the history of your browser and review the activity later. A set of commits in Chromium’s Gerrit were spotted last year and Google has now confirmed that these features will be coming to Chrome.
Lazy-loading for faster loading of mobile webpages
Lastly, Google Chrome 75 will also be getting lazy-loading, a technique which only loads images and other media only within the first fold or the intially visible parts of a particular website so as to prevent excessive consumption of data. Lazy-loading is known to increase the loading speeds by up to 35% but, websites must enable support for it in order to help users utilize the feature.
The feature goes live on Chrome with the next version of the browser when it goes live later this month. Currently, it is available as an experimental flag in the stable version of Chrome as well as a feature in Chrome beta.
Source: Chromium Blog