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Google releases Chrome 71 with a focus on security features

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Google has published today Chrome 71, the latest version of its web browser, a release that is primarily focused on bolstering Chrome’s security posture.

There are quite a few updates on the security front in this new Chrome version, but one of the most important is the one made to Chrome’s built-in ad filtering system.

Announced at the start of November, last month, this update will improve Chrome’s ability to detect websites that show overly aggressive or misleading ads and popups –which, Google said, creates “abusive experiences” for Chrome users. We won’t go over these modifications in fine details again, but for more details, readers can check out ZDNet’s previous coverage, here.

Secondly, also starting with Chrome 71, Google also announced its intention to crack down on websites that use shady tricks to fool users into subscribing to mobile subscription plans.

Google plans to show a full-page warning –similar to the ones shown for HTTPS errors– before users access these types of sites.


Image: Google

But there’s more. To prevent tech support scam websites from using the Speech Synthesis API to scare users into calling shady tech support call centers and paying for unnecessary tech support services, Google has also restricted websites’ ability to “speak” after a page has loaded.

Starting with Chrome 71, users must first interact with a web page before a site can trigger a “speak” event. Google has been working on fixing this problem for at least ten months, and while it won’t completely stop tech support sites from playing audio, it will seriously hinder their efforts.

Further, another security-related change is the final removal of the Inline Install API, a Chrome feature that allowed users to install Chrome extensions hosted on the official Web Store, but while navigating other websites.

Google previously disabled inline installations in Chrome 69, in September. The company’s engineers are now just finishing the API’s deprecation process by removing the actual code responsible for this feature. This is a necessary last step to prevent sites from exploiting Chrome bugs to initiate unauthorized inline installations.

And last but not least, Chrome 71 also includes fixes for 43 security issues, detailed in more depth here.

But besides security improvements, Chrome 71 also shipped with many updates to the browser’s underlying Web APIs and CSS features. A summary of the most important changes are available below:

  • Chrome now supports relative date formats by default, without site owners needing to use a third-party JavaScript library. The relative time format refers to dates expressed such as “4 seconds ago,” “today,” “two years ago,” etc..
  • Chrome now supports Microsoft’s COLR/CPAL font format. This is the third “color font” format that Chrome will support, after CBDT/CBLC and SBIX. Color fonts are a new way of creating and rendering vector-based interactive fonts.
  • The Web Audio API now follows user-set audio autoplay settings. This means that when a user mutes a website, Chrome will actually respect the user’s wish. Google initially rolled out audio autoplay muting earlier this year, but engineers rolled back the change almost immediately because the new policy also broke many old web games. After giving developers time to adjust their sites and old web games, Google has now re-enabled that feature.

The full details about all the developer-centric changes are available in these two Google blog posts [1, 2], but also summarized in the video below:

With today’s release, Chrome’s new version number is 71.0.3578.80. Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android users should be able to install the update using Chrome’s built-in updater. The full Chrome 71 changelog is available here (slow-loading link).

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Security

Work from Home Security

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Spin Master is a leading global children’s entertainment company that invents toys and games, produces dozens of television and studio series that are distributed in 160 countries, and creates a variety of digital games played by more than 30 million children. What was once a small private company founded by childhood friends is now a public global supply chain with over 1,500 employees and 28 offices around the world.

Like most organizations in 2020, Spin Master had to adapt quickly to the new normal of remote work, shifting most of its production from cubicles in regional and head offices to hundreds of employees working from home and other remote locations.

This dramatic shift created potential security risks, as most employees were no longer behind the firewall on the corporate network. Without the implementation of hardened endpoint security, the door would be open for bad actors to infiltrate the organization, acquire intellectual property, and ransom customer information. Additionally, the potential downtime caused by a security breach could harm the global supply chain. With that in mind, Spin Master created a self-imposed 30-day deadline to extend its network protection capabilities to the edge.

Key Findings:

  • Think Long Term: The initial goal of establishing a stop-gap work-from-home (WFH) and work-from-anywhere (WFA) strategy has since morphed into a permanent strategy, requiring long-term solutions.
  • Gather Skills: The real urgency posed by the global pandemic made forging partnerships with providers that could fill all the required skill sets a top priority.
  • Build Momentum: The compressed timeline left no room for delay or error. The Board of Directors threw its support behind the implementation team and gave it broad budget authority to ensure rapid action, while providing active guidance to align strategy with action.
  • Deliver Value: The team established two key requirements that the selected partner must deliver: implementation support and establishing an ongoing managed security operations center (SOC).
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Key Criteria for Evaluating Privileged Access Management

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Privileged Access Management (PAM) enables administrative access to critical IT systems while minimizing the chances of security compromises through monitoring, policy enforcement, and credential management.

A key operating principle of all PAM systems is the separation of user credentials for individual staff members from the system administration credentials they are permitted to use. PAM solutions store and manage all of the privileged credentials, providing system access without requiring users to remember, or even know, the privileged password. Of course, all staff have their own unique user ID and password that they use to complete everyday tasks such as accessing email and writing documents. Users who are permitted to handle system administration tasks that require privileged credentials log into the PAM solution, which provides and controls such access according to predefined security policies. These policies control who is allowed to use which privileged credentials when, where, and for what tasks. An organization’s policy may also require logging and recording of the actions undertaken with the privileged credentials.

Once implemented, PAM will improve your security posture in several ways. The first is by segregating day-to-day duties from duties that require elevated access, reducing the risk of accidental privileged actions. Secondly, automated password management reduces the possibility that credentials will be shared while also lowering the risk if credentials are accidentally exposed. Finally, extensive logging and activity recording in PAM solutions aids audits of critical system access for both preventative and forensic security.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Adventist Risk Management Data Protection Infrastructure

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Companies always want to enhance their ability to quickly address pressing business needs. Toward that end, they look for new ways to make their IT infrastructures more efficient—and more cost effective. Today, those pressing needs often center around data protection and regulatory compliance, which was certainly the case for Adventist Risk Management. What they wanted was an end-to-end, best-in-class solution to meet their needs. After trying several others, they found the perfect combination with HYCU and Nutanix, which provided:

  • Ease of deployment
  • Outstanding ROI
  • Overall TCO improvement

Nutanix Cloud Platform provides a software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure, while HYCU offers purpose-built backup and recovery for Nutanix. Compared to the previous traditional infrastructure and data protection solutions in use at Adventist Risk Management, Nutanix and HYCU simplified processes, speeding day-to-day operations up to 75%. Now, migration and update activities typically scheduled for weekends can be performed during working hours and help to increase IT staff and management quality of life. HYCU further increased savings by providing faster and more frequent points of recovery as well as better DR Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) by increasing the ability to do daily backups from one to four per day.

Furthermore, the recent adoption of Nutanix Objects, which provides secure and performant S3 storage capabilities, enhanced the infrastructure by:

    • Improving overall performance for backups
    • Adding security against potential ransomware attacks
    • Replacing components difficult to manage and support

In the end, Nutanix and HYCU enabled their customer to save money, improve the existing environment, and, above all, meet regulatory compliance requirements without any struggle.

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