Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bonus Security Credit for Google Chrome’s Strange Install

Last fall, many folks including myself commented about Google Chrome’s unusual install behavior. Our best guess at the time was that it represented an attempt to accelerate adoption, by allowing non-administrative users to install Chrome.

It also allowed lower-privileged domain users in corporate environments to install and use Chrome unless their IT specifically blocked it.

With this recent Chrome vulnerability and rapid patch cycle, though, I’ve come to see the install in a new light.

Firefox requires an admin to initialize an update. This can be done through programmatic remote admin or right on the console, but still requires intervention. IE can be updated via Windows auto-update, but if auto-update isn’t set to run or if a specific patch needs to be applied, it requires intervention. Chrome, on the other hand, will update itself on the fly for each user’s install (it does require a restart, but only of the Chrome app) unless the installer is cracked to remove the GoogleUpdater component.

Given the cost of having an out-of-date browser version versus the risk of having Chrome updated without admin knowledge … I have to say I like this approach.

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