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Exclusive Interview: Google Chrome's Chromium Core Explored

Comparing To The Competition

Alan: Speaking of other browsers born in the research lab, DARPABrowser was developed as part of a research contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. If JavaScript were disabled, do you think Chrome could offer the same level of security?

Adam: The DARPABrowser has very different security goals than Chromium. For example, the DAPRABrowser aims to limit the damage a compromised rendering engine can do while displaying an honest Web page. Worrying about these threats ends up making the privileged component as complex as the rendering engine, and it's not clear how much security that buys you.

Alan: Let’s move onto commercially available Web browsers. How is Internet Explorer’s “Protected Mode” different from what Chromium does?

Collin: Protected Mode is designed to protect local files from being overwritten by an attacker who exploits a browser vulnerability. This is a good start--it makes it harder for the attacker to install malware. But the attacker can still read all your files. There is a lot of important stuff on the file system and that's why the Chromium architecture is designed to protect the confidentiality of files as well.

Alan: Opera has made a big deal about supporting NX bit and ASLR. These are also features supported by IE8. Are they also implemented in Chromium?

Adam: Yes.  Chromium uses NX, ASLR, and StackCheck.

Alan: While Mac OS X Leopard offers less security features than Windows Vista or Windows 7, it offers better safety because there are fewer threats. Dino A. Dai Zovi made the analogy of leaving your front door unlocked; whether or not you are safe depends on where you live. What are the technical challenges of implementing Chromium’s sandboxing on other operating systems, such as Mac OS X or Linux?

Adam: Mac OS X has a powerful built-in sandboxing mechanism that Chromium can use to sandbox its rendering engine. My understanding is that there are some challenges with drawing to the screen in a multi-process application, but I expect the team will find a clever solution. Different distributions of Linux offer different sandboxing mechanisms, including SELinux and AppArmor. The Linux team is evaluating which of these best fits Chromium's security needs.

  • duckmanx88
    security features? im using chrome right now. love it. but this thing is far from secure. it shows you all your saved passwords with no protection. and i'd like to open my tabs on a page i select and not my most viewed sites for everyone to see.
  • thee_prisoner
    +1 Duckman, I also do not like to have my passwords saved. It is convenient to have your most viewed websites posted, but it can lead to issues with work. Even though I use this function, it might get messy in an environment where you have competitive co-workers to easily see what you are working on.

    What I would like to see, make it so that people have a way to access these features quickly, but still maintain some security.

    Really though in all browsers people can just look at your history of your websites that you visited, unless of course you delete your history all the time.

    Chrome is great. It is fast and easy to use.

    BTW, at least Berkeley and other state schools generally give you better well rounded education. I find accumulation of knowledge helps in all fields, we do not to become a world of engineers.

    Be seeing you...
  • interesting.. even if i dont know anything about coding....
    i love opera btw....!
  • csuftech
    @duckmanx88, given that it was the only browser that was not compromised at this years Pwn2Own contest, I would say it's pretty secure. Also, if you don't want the most visited sites page, go to Wrench > Options > Basics and then just click on "Open this page".
  • UC Berkeley is a second-rate school? Ha!
  • deltatux
    Been using Google Chrome since its release and it's fantastic, I love the security built into the browser and I love the multiprocess approach, makes a lot of sense.
  • sunraycer
    @csuftech: That's for the homepage right? I think he's talking about opening a TAB with the +. I'd also like to open to a page and not my most used page list. Nice as an option, but not as a forced function. I'd hope this would change when they have new versions. The settings are fairly sparse in Chrome in general. Hopefully they'll incorporate more. I've been using Chrome since I read the last article in this series and I'm starting to like it already. Might start trying to use the beta to see what's on the way...
  • Capability-based security is a nice topic, since it fits very well with general Internet infrastructure. I.e. there's no global system of roles, users and ACLs, but even now it's possible to build capability-based systems using browser cookies.

    Are there any developments in this area?
  • ossie
    "Macs definitely seem to be a favorite among security researchers."
    "In order to take advantage of the most security features, users need to be running NTFS and Windows Vista."
    "While Mac OS X Leopard offers less security features than Windows Vista or Windows 7, it offers better safety because there are fewer threats."

    Very funny mr. Dang. Your pathetic attempts to push m$ corporate spin failed miserably...
    No serious professional would use m$ crap for it's important work. OS X (BSD Unix) is still more secure than windblow$ even if you try hard to suggest otherwise.
  • dvader
    @ossie: you are pretty clueless, sir. Read the Charlie Miller interview.