When the team behind Google's Chrome OS software and Chromebooks set out to reinvent the laptop, it quickly zeroed in on security as an area where it could bring a fresh perspective. 'On Chrome OS, we were like, 'We control all the pieces.
We can do better,' Will Drewry, a principal software engineer for Google's devices, and one of the founding fathers of the Chromebook, said in an interview in January. The team wanted to build something that would fit this generation's needs, as well as address the rising crop of threats facing PCs. 'Security was thought of very differently back then because there weren't as many security attack vectors that are out today,' Kan Liu, Google's director of product management, said in the same interview.
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Google's CR-48 was the first-ever Chromebook. When Will Drewry and Kan Liu, two of Chrome OS's founding fathers, sent it to security researchers, the feedback was more about issues with the trackpad. Josh Miller/CNET There was hardly a peep when it came to security flaws. Nine years later, and Chromebooks are a smash success.
Nearly three out of every five machines used in schools run the Chrome OS, according to researcher. In fact, Chromebooks are so successful in the education world that on Tuesday, Apple held its at Chicago's Lane Tech College Prep High School in an effort to re-establish its position in the area. Thanks to the early focus on preventing cyberattacks, Chromebooks are also a hit with the security community. Security experts commonly recommend Chromebooks, whether it's for the relative who somehow always ends up with spyware toolbars or the researcher heading to a hackers' meetup. And it's not about complicated encryption or security tricks - Chromebooks have gained popularity through a combination of affordability and simple but effective security. Take Jake Williams, the founder of Rendition Security.
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He not only uses a Chromebook, he also says he's comforted by the fact that his daughter has one in school. 'I definitely feel like she is more safe on a Chromebook than a Windows laptop,' he said. Field-tested Heading to my first security conference last year, I expected to see a tricked-out laptop running on a virtual machine with a private network and security USB keys sticking out - perhaps something out of a scene from '.'
That's not what I got. Everywhere I went I'd see small groups of people carrying Chromebooks, and they'd tell me that when heading into unknown territory it was their travel device. Google's laptop brand as a stripped-down computer with the web browser as the main operating system. Back then, Chromebooks were slow to gain acceptance because of their closed ecosystem, which meant an inability to download programs from the internet.
But Chromebooks have now outsold both. Alongside the bare-bones OS came a set of security features that, more than five years later, companies like. Fewer software choices mean limited options for hackers. Those are some of the benefits that have led security researchers to warm up to the laptops. Mentored someone on teaching computing basics to seniors.
'What antivirus to buy?' 'Buy a Chromebook.' 'What about.'
— SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) 'Chromebooks have a lot of strong security defaults,' said Jessy Irwin, a security expert and head of security at. 'In security, everyone blames the user for being at fault.
But Google's approach is really great because it makes it less likely for the user to mess up.' In response, Microsoft introduced Windows 10 S, a locked-down version of its operating system that can run apps only from its approved app store. A spokeswoman for Microsoft called Windows 10 S computers 'a compelling value prop against Chromebook' for security and functionality. Chrome OS takes an approach to security that's similar to the one Apple takes with iOS and its closed ecosystem. An Apple spokesman said the company's iPads have the 'same industry-leading protections' as the iPhone. But there's a major difference in price.
Chromebooks are cheap compared with iPads,. MacBooks, however, are open like traditional Windows PCs and are also much more expensive.
'If I dropped $2,000 on a nice Macbook Pro, and it gets lost or confiscated or stolen, I'd lose my mind,' White said. 'If my $150, $160 Samsung Chromebook did, then whatever, no big deal.' That's not to say Chrome OS is impervious to malware.
Cybercriminals have figured out loopholes through Chrome's extensions, like when 37,000 devices were hit by the. Malicious Android apps have also been able to sneak. But Chrome OS users mostly avoided massive cyberattack campaigns like getting or hijacked to. Major security flaws for Chrome OS, like ones that would give an attacker complete control, are so rare that Google.
Security in simplicity The Chrome OS team in 2014. Kan Liu, one of the original members, sits on the top right in a white shirt. Google While you can keep your, antivirus scans and beefing up your settings, Google sought to create the most secure system right from the first boot, assembly not required. 'If you want prehardened security, then Chromebooks are it,' said Kenneth White, director of the. 'Not because they're Google, but because Chrome OS was developed for years and it explicitly had web security as a core design principle.'
It goes back to what Liu, Drewry and the rest of the original Chrome OS team envisioned when creating a new breed of laptops. The three design requirements for the Chromebook were 'simplicity, security and speed,' Liu and Drewry said. The three ended up playing off each other. The Chrome OS team wanted to keep it simple for users so the machines could run faster. But by limiting the playing field, the OS was able to shut out common attacks from a decade ago, while preventing future tactics as well, Drewry said. 'Even if you don't know what attacks are coming in the future, you've limited the combinations,' he said. 'We've seen this over the years.
Attackers would have to wind through a twisty maze of passages to get something that'd work.' Four features But you can get only so far with simplicity alone. Drewry and Liu focused on four key features for the Chromebook that have been available ever since the first iteration in 2010: sandboxing, verified boots, power washing and quick updates.
These provided security features that made it much harder for malware to pass through, while providing a quick fix-it button if it ever did. 'That's the fundamental difference between how Chrome OS works and how any other computer at the time worked,' Liu said. But what is sandboxing?
And what's power washing? (Hint: It doesn't include water.) Here's a breakdown of the four key features. Sandboxing. Aaron Robinson/CNET The Chromebook's browser was designed so that each tab would be considered its own process. Drewry had noticed that malware often took advantage of programs that had open access to the rest of the computer. So on Chrome OS, each tab, which the Chrome team called the 'Render,' had all the code it needed to function properly, meaning it didn't need to go outside and access any other files.
Data outside the browser would go through a tool the Chrome OS team calls 'Minijail,' which makes sure the system is delivering only the requested data and nothing more. So even if a browser-based attack passed through, it would be only on that specific tab, Drewry said. Verified Boot.
Aaron Robinson/CNET This is Google's variation of Secure Boot, a feature available on Windows and Apple devices. Google's team wanted to make sure that when Chromebooks started, they were running software that couldn't be changed. Every single line of code that runs at startup is checked to make sure it came from Google, and wasn't modified by malware.
'They've been thoughtful about that boot process, so that when you hit the power button, you're able to trust that startup a bit more than with other devices,' Irwin said. If anything was altered, it heads to a recovery mode for Chromebooks, which is also stored on the secure processor and can't be modified. Power Washes. Aaron Robinson/CNET This feature allows people to completely reset their Chromebook to factory settings with the push of a single button, making it simple to get back to a clean state.
It's helpful for when you think you've been affected by malware, or if you're traveling and want to make sure you're not carrying any sensitive data on your devices. 'It's one of our key features,' Drewry said. 'Because if something goes crazily wrong, what do you do?' Going back to factory settings can often be difficult on other devices, with multiple steps to return to square one. For Chrome OS, it's available right through the settings. Aaron Robinson/CNET Security patches aren't unique to Chromebooks, but Google's process and dedication to their rollout is.
The company guarantees a Chromebook will receive updates for up to seven years after it's first released. Even the CR-48, the first Chromebook, which was, continued to get updates up until last May. That's a stark difference from millions of outdated devices that no longer receive needed security updates.
More than 90 percent of Chromebook users are using the latest versions of software, according to Google. Liu said if there are any security flaws that need an urgent patch, Google is able to roll out the fix within 48 hours. The updates also happen in the background, thanks to a new process Chrome OS introduced with its debut. Instead of asking users to install the updates, Drewry said, Chrome OS has two copies of what's running, a Version A and a Version B. Whenever a new update comes, it happens on Version B, and once everything is ready, the Chrome OS loads up the updated version at the next reboot.
'It's something that they don't ever have to think about,' Liu said. 'It just happens.' Usable security There's a major difference between what's the most secure and what's the most convenient. Chromebooks aim for that sweet spot in between, said Drewry and Liu. It goes into the concept of 'usable security.' While you may be able to set up a VPN and two-factor authentication with a USB key, you probably don't want to do that for all your relatives. 'I'm not going to give a nontech colleague the advice to run Linux,' White said.
'I'm going to be on the phone with them constantly helping. Even as a geek, I don't want to screw around with something. I want to get stuff done.' White put together a as possible, a process that, he said, takes only about 15 minutes. But even without his quick enhancements, the vanilla version of Chrome OS works just as well for security. It's not the most secure device you could have, but it's the most secure with the easiest learning curve. 'This was my personal standard,' Drewry said.
'Can I give it to kids? Can I give it to friends and family?
Can I give it to security experts?' Correction, 9:10 a.m. PT: This story originally misstated when the Automatic Updates feature became available. That feature has been available since Chrome OS launched.
Apple NEW YORK—Curious about the iPhone 8? Here's what's coming, courtesy of Apple's introduction of its new operating system. Apple kept news of a tenth anniversary iPhone under wraps on day one of its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. But Tim Cook & Co.
Revealed plenty about the software that will be at the new iPhone’s core when it arrives, likely in the fall. As with prior iterations of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 11 also promises new features for current iPhone models. And Apple also reserved special love for iPads that the company can only hope helps revive a sagging brand. More Apple news: Apple's big wow moments: a voice speaker and augmented reality Apple's HomePod sounds great: first look iPhone will get 'Do Not Disturb While Driving' mode in iOS 11 this fall iOS 11 was released as a developer preview today. Here are eleven of the changes coming to iOS that caught my attention:.Augmented reality. The faddish popularity of last summer’s Pokemon Go release gave iPhone users an early sense of what augmented reality is all about, essentially layering characters and other “fake” stuff on top of the real world.
Using a platform called ARKit, developers will be able to exploit computer vision and take advantage of what Apple maintains will be “the largest AR platform in the world,” given the vast user base of iPhones and iPads that are out there. I’m eager to see the many ways developers might do just that, in gaming, commerce and more. One thing we know: augmented reality almost always makes for a cool demo, even in its simplest form as when an Apple executive made a faux steaming cup of coffee appear on an otherwise barren tabletop.Pay your friends in Messenger.
Watch out, Venmo, PayPal and Square. Apple is enabling person-to-person payments inside the Messages app, via Apple Pay and with an assist from Siri. Video dvd burner software for mac. Apple still has some explaining to do when it comes to the finer details.
For example, Apple executive Craig Federighi said on stage that when you receive money from a friend it will go into an Apple Pay Cash card, of which I’d like to learn more. Apple.Do Not Disturb While Driving. Speaking of driving, this genuine safety feature is good news for drivers too easily distracted by notifications and alerts. When you turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving, iOS 11 will silence alert and notifications while keeping the screen dark. IOS 11 will use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to measure that you’re moving in a car and if so, to suggest activating the feature. If it is activated, anyone sending you a message will get an automated response telling them that you’ll see their message when you get where you’re going.
If the message senders want to alert you about is truly urgent, they can reply urgent in the message to permit it to get through to you. Jefferson Graham.A smarter Siri? The proof will be in the pudding.
But Apple insists that through machine learning and artificial intelligence, Siri will indeed get smarter in iOS 11, and also learn more about how to please you with personal experiences and suggestions by learning what you’re doing inside the Safari, News, Mail and Messages apps. Your Siri interactions are synced across devices (and encrypted.) I don’t know how much you’ll appreciate the new, supposedly more natural-sounding male and female Siri voices. But international travelers will likely appreciate the fact that Siri will be able to translate English words and phrases into Chinese, French, German and Spanish.Enhancements to Photos. IPhone photographers ought to welcome new features coming to the Photos and Camera apps, though of course I haven't put any of these to the test yet. (And who knows what kind of camera will be built into the next iPhone?) Such features include the ability to shoot Portrait Mode pictures (currently a feature on the iPhone 7 Plus only) with optical image stabilization. IOS 11 also lets you add effects and trim the short video snippets inside Live Photos images. And a new format called High Efficiency Image File Format can reduce the file size of the pics you take on an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.New design for Control Center.
New designs of any kind take getting used to but the changes to the Control Center where you can turn on Airplane mode, adjust the audio and more looks to be a positive step. Control Center packs such tools now in a single view, which you can get to with an upward swipe gesture. Meanwhile, a new lock screen also brings notifications into a unified view.New design for App Store.
On the design front, the App Store is also getting a makeover. Highlights include a new Today view with featured app content-valuable real estate for chosen app sellers of course-as well as a dedicated Games section.One handed keyboard.
This is another feature I'll need to try. But Apple is promising easier one-handed typing, with easy access to numbers, symbols and punctuation. A richer music experience.
Apple Music subscribers will be able to follow, contribute and listen to shared playlists with friends and create profiles so they in turn can follow you. What’s more, Apple has opened up Apple Music to developers, giving them full access to the 40 million songs in Apple’s cloud catalog.
Apple noted on the WWDC stage that Nike can add exercise playlists through the catalog, or Shazam can automatically add the songs it identifies to your music collection. Meantime, while the newly-announced $349 Siri-controlled HomePod speaker isn't coming until December, the new AirPlay 2 feature in iOS 11, will let you control Apple TV and third party speakers in multiple rooms around the house, using Control Center, the Home app or Siri.IPad only benefits.
Beyond the iPhone, Apple says iOS 11 is the biggest software release ever for the iPad. Two benefits worth mentioning: drag and drop support and a new Files app, both of which would make a tablet such as the iPad Pro that much more like a Mac. Email: [email protected]; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter.