Google Chrome Protects Against Malware

Weeks ago, I posted about the many reasons why I enjoy web browsing with Google Chrome.  Today, I just added another reason to like Google Chrome.  Malware protection.

I was clicking on links of search results from www.google.com, when I got the following message: “Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer!”

I don’t think Chrome is unique with this feature, as many modern web browsers offer some form of this functionality.  Nonetheless, it is the first time I can recall ever being presented with such a warning.

While I did not investigate the exact nature of this particular malware site, it does look to me like Chrome is checking all the content and links on a page.  In this case, it found advertising which contained content from (or a link to) the malware site identified in the warning.  Nice catch.

Because advertising on the web today is often sourced from third party advertising networks, there’s no guarantee that an otherwise respectable web site will not inadvertently display such malware ads.  This form of malware attack recently made its way onto the Star Tribune, just as it has to other popular and well-known web sites (e.g. New York Times).

Having been using the Internet for almost 20 years, I’m pretty “street smart” about viruses, phishing, spyware, scareware, malware, and all the likes.  And as such, I’ve been able to steer clear of these maladies.  Nonetheless, this warning came as a surprise to me, because it was generated by a Top-5 link in the Google search engine results.

Unfortunately, the Internet is still a kind of wild-wild-west, where criminals roam freely.  These unscrupulous types are increasingly using ever-more sophisticated techniques to infect computers, which then give them access to credit card numbers, user passwords, and the means to launch distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks against web sites.  Many times, a web browser is the vector of such infections.  Thankfully, Google Chrome has been designed with an increased attention toward security.

Gone are the days when visiting seedy web sites might get your computer infected.  Today, you can be infected by the advertising displayed on a seemingly-safe and familiar website.

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Reasons Why I Like Google Chrome

I’ve been using Mac OS X since February 2009, and I have been very happy with the adoption.  Nonetheless, when switching to a different operating system, there’s the inevitable transition period — finding, downloading, trying, and settling in with new applications to get the job done.  I was particularly interested in finding a suitable web browser.

On my quest, I went through a number of browsers on the Mac.  At first, I used Safari, but I was not won-over.  I then dabbled with Opera for a little bit, but I just couldn’t stomach the way it rendered many pages.  Having been a Firefox user on Windows, I settled on using Firefox on the Mac for the subsequent 10 months, because it was nearly identical on Mac and Windows.

Now, it should be noted that I have a diverse set of interests, so I tend to have lots of web browser windows open at the same time, and I’ll often have my web browser open for weeks at a time.  And that’s where Firefox began to lose its luster for me.  Firefox on the Mac, like its Windows variant, gets slow, if left running for any length of time.  It eventually consumes a great deal of memory and CPU on the computer, causing everything to get slow.  I have found this to be the case with nearly every web browser I have tried in recent years.  Sure, the problem may have more to do with bad programming in the the JavaScript and Flash elements on the various web pages, but why settle for that?  I wanted a new, smarter, more-efficient web browser!

Having using Google Chrome on Windows (and liking it), I had been anticipating Chrome on Mac for many months.  Finally, on December 8, 2009, my new browser had arrived.  I switched almost exclusively to Google Chrome (beta) on Mac, from that day forward.  Like many other Google offerings, the “beta” product was already feature-rich and very stable.  (Well, I did have to wait a while for  the Bookmark Manager to be implemented on the Mac version, but eventually, it was.)

There are so many good things I can write about Google Chrome:

  • automatic sync of your bookmarks, seamlessly across all your computers running Chrome,
  • the Task Manager’s visibility into memory and CPU consumed by each open web page,
  • each web page runs as its own process, giving you the ability to kill individual pages (or plugins) that aren’t playing nicely, without affecting the other pages,
  • automatic re-opening of previously-open pages, when I re-launch Chrome (after I close it intentionally, or rarely, when it crashes),
  • the design ideas that make it a really great browser, performance-wise and security-wise,
  • its compatibility with all the web sites I use regularly,
  • availability of a large variety of extensions (i.e. plugins),
  • cross-platform support: same browsing experience on Mac and Windows.

It’s a very fast, snappy, and responsive browser.  And (very important to me), it doesn’t appear to suffer from the same performance problems that plague other web browsers, when they have been running for some time.

Apparently, many other people are also taking notice of Google Chrome.  Here’s a recent article that graphs the market share of the most popular web browsers, as of April 2010.  It is remarkable that in just 16 months, Google Chrome has gone from a 2% up to a 7% market share.

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