Latest Chrome release offers breach password check and tab freezing

Chrome logo in browser displayed on desktop screen
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Google has packed a host of new features into the latest edition of its Chrome web browser, version 79, aimed at boosting user security and improving general functionality.

The new features include tab freeze, back-forward cache, additional phishing protections and a built-in password checkup tool among other security-centric additions such as compromised passwords alert.

This lattermost addition to the Chrome repertoire can determine whether your login details have been compromised in a previous data breach, which works by comparing hashed copies of your details with hashed credentials found in leaks.

Google stores a strongly encrypted copy of users’ login credentials whenever these are entered for any site. The firm also stores an encrypted copy of compromised data exposed through data breaches on its own servers.

The firm will use a method called private set intersection with blinding, which involves several layers of encryption that allows the company to compare the two sets of data without disclosing the contents.

Real-time phishing protection will compare URLs with a known list of safe sites stored on users’ devices. Chrome will then query SafeBrowsing to determine whether the site’s a known phishing platform if it doesn’t match up with the list of safe sites.

Predictive phishing protection, meanwhile, will let users know when credentials are entered into a known phishing site. Google says its changes will increase the blocking of new phishing attempts by as much as 30%.

Google’s back-forward cache can allow its users to cache an entire page when navigating away, which means users can alternate quickly between different pages without having to reload resources.

Last to make up the list of headline features is proactive tab freezing, which will freeze tabs not in use for five minutes so battery usage is reduced and memory is freed up. One of Google Chrome's biggest criticisms has been its tendency to consume vast amounts of power and memory.

One additional change is the way in which the Chrome browser will mark insecure TLS 1.0 and 1.1 protocols as ‘not secure’, which kicks in from 13 January. This has been coordinated with all major browser developers including Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.