New features include DNS over HTTPS, a Safety Check section and simpler cookie management
Google has launched the hotly anticipated version 83 of its Chrome browser that comes complete with a raft of features originally planned for version 82, which was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of all, the new release brings new or redesigned security and privacy controls, as well as better password protection. The updates will be coming to Chrome on desktop platforms over the next few weeks, said Google.
Topping the list of the new additions is a pair of major upgrades: Enhanced Safe Browsing and Secure DNS. The former is meant to protect you from various online threats, including phishing and malware, in a more proactive manner. “If you turn on Enhanced Safe Browsing, Chrome proactively checks whether pages and downloads are dangerous by sending information about them to Google Safe Browsing,” says AbdelKarim Mardini, Senior Product Manager at Google. More protection updates are in the pipeline over the upcoming year, including tailored warnings for phishing sites.
The Secure DNS feature, meanwhile, includes DNS over HTTPS (DoH) that encrypts your Domain Name System (DNS) lookups with the aim of protecting you against a host of threats to your privacy and security. Chrome will either upgrade you to DNS over HTTPS automatically if the option is supported by your internet service provider, or you can configure it by using a different secure DNS provider. You can even disable the option completely. This update comes after Firefox turned on DoH by default for US users earlier this year while giving the rest of the world the option to flip it on manually in the browser’s settings.
Another new addition to Chrome’s toolset is Safety check. Among other things, the feature will alert you if any of your passwords stored in Chrome has been compromised; if so, it will advise you what to do. It also checks if your browser version is up-to-date or whether Google’s Safe browsing, which warns you if you’re about to or download a malicious extension, is turned on. In case you installed a malicious extension, the feature will tell you how to get rid of it.
The browser’s controls have also gone through a design overhaul, making them easier to understand. It’s now simpler for users to manage cookies and choose how they are used, with an option to block third-party cookies in both regular and Incognito mode. You can even choose to block all cookies on all websites or choose individually. Google has already announced plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome, and this seems to be one of the steps in that direction.
The control layout in Site settings has been divided into two sections, to make finding sensitive website permissions (location access, camera, microphone, etc.) less tasking. The “Clear browsing data” button has been moved to the top of the Privacy & Security section, since users tend to use it frequently.