It’s that time again! Sometime in the next week or so, Chrome OS will receive the latest milestone update and version 63 will begin rolling out to Chromebooks and Chrome devices everywhere. Per the natural order of things, the desktop version of Chrome updated this week and brought with is some stability and security enhancements but before you get too excited, they come at a cost and the currency is RAM.
Since inception, the Chrome browser has implemented a Multi-process architecture which dedicates a single process per browser tab to contain crashes and bugs within the individual session. This increases Chrome’s stability by preventing full browser crashes being triggered by a single page fault.
Site Isolation is an enterprise-focused upgrade to the Multi-process model meant to create even more stability while also making the browser more resistant to exploits.
The current method of Multi-process rendering generally uses one process per tab but when an event in that tab triggers an action that opens a new page, those pages now share the same, singular process. Likewise, if multiple domains are visited within a single browser page, the one process is shared among all the events.
Site Isolation will eliminate this sharing process. Each new event that launches a new page or transcends multiple domains inside an individual tab will all be handled by a new process. This prevents, for example, a malicious malware or highjacker to access multiple pages or exploit extensions.
Because of the new processes in play, RAM usage could potentially be impacted by as much as a 10-20% increase. The good news is that this new feature is disabled by default as it is mainly focused on enterprises that are looking create a more secure infrastructure.
Read more about Site Isolation on the Chromium Developers documentation page.
Another enterprise and managed device feature, extension blocking, is exactly what it sounds like. Admins can block extensions via the Google Admin Console based on which features the extension uses. This can be used to prevent extensions from accessing things like file management, webcams, VPNs and more.
Other notable changes in Chrome 63 include the update to the newest version Transport Layer Security. TLS 1.3 is the protocol that creates secure connections between web servers and the browser. Currently only utilized between Chrome and Gmail, 2018 will see a larger rollout of the protocol.
A list of security patches, bug fixes and developer bounties can be found on the Chrome Release site.
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