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Tim Willis, Hacker Philanthropist, Chrome Security Team
Around this time each year we announce the rules, details and maximum cash amounts we’re putting up for our Pwnium competition. For the last few years we put a huge pile of cash on the table (last year it was e million) and gave researchers one day during CanSecWest to present their exploits. We’ve received some great entries over the years, but it’s time for something bigger.

Starting today, Pwnium will change its scope significantly, from a single-day competition held once a year at a security conference to a year round, worldwide opportunity for security researchers.

For those who are interested in what this means for the Pwnium rewards pool, we crunched the numbers and the results are in: it now goes all the way up to $∞ million*.

We’re making this change for a few reasons:

  • Removing barriers to entry: At Pwnium competitions, a security researcher would need to have a bug chain in March, pre-register, have a physical presence at the competition location and hopefully get a good timeslot. Under the new scheme, security researchers can submit their bugs year-round through the Chrome Vulnerability Reward Program (VRP) whenever they find them.
  • Removing the incentive for bug hoarding: If a security researcher was to discover a Pwnium-quality bug chain today, it’s highly likely that they would wait until the contest to report it to get a cash reward. This is a bad scenario for all parties. It’s bad for us because the bug doesn’t get fixed immediately and our users are left at risk. It’s bad for them as they run the real risk of a bug collision. By allowing security researchers to submit bugs all year-round, collisions are significantly less likely and security researchers aren’t duplicating their efforts on the same bugs.
  • Our researchers want this: On top of all of these reasons, we asked our handful of participants if they wanted an option to report all year. They did, so we’re delivering.

Logistically, we’ll be adding Pwnium-style bug chains on Chrome OS to the Chrome VRP. This will increase our top reward to $50,000, which will be on offer all year-round. Check out our FAQ for more information.

Happy hunting!

* Our lawyercats wouldn’t let me say “never-ending” or “infinity million” without adding that “this is an experimental and discretionary rewards program and Google may cancel or modify the program at any time.” Check out the reward eligibility requirements on the Chrome VRP page.

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[Cross-posted on the Android Blog]



Many Android apps use a WebView for displaying HTML content. In Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google has the ability to update WebView independently of the Android platform. Beginning today, developers can use a new beta channel to test the latest version of WebView and provide feedback. WebView updates bring numerous bug fixes, new web platform APIs and updates from Chromium. If you’re making use of the WebView in your app, becoming a beta channel tester will give you an early start with new APIs as well as the chance to test your app before the WebView rolls out to your users. The first version offered in the beta channel will be based on Chrome 40 and you can find a full list of changes on the chromium blog entry. To become a beta tester, join the community which will enable you to sign up for the Beta program; you’ll then be able to install the beta version of the WebView via the Play Store. If you find any bugs, please file them on the Chromium issue tracker.

Richard Coles - Software Engineer, Google London

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HTTP is the fundamental networking protocol that powers the web. The majority of sites use version 1.1 of HTTP, which was defined in 1999 with RFC2616. A lot has changed on the web since then, and a new version of the protocol named HTTP/2 is well on the road to standardization. We plan to gradually roll out support for HTTP/2 in Chrome 40 in the upcoming weeks.

HTTP/2’s primary changes from HTTP/1.1 focus on improved performance. Some key features such as multiplexing, header compression, prioritization and protocol negotiation evolved from work done in an earlier open, but non-standard protocol named SPDY. Chrome has supported SPDY since Chrome 6, but since most of the benefits are present in HTTP/2, it’s time to say goodbye. We plan to remove support for SPDY in early 2016, and to also remove support for the TLS extension named NPN in favor of ALPN in Chrome at the same time. Server developers are strongly encouraged to move to HTTP/2 and ALPN.

We’re happy to have contributed to the open standards process that led to HTTP/2, and hope to see wide adoption given the broad industry engagement on standardization and implementation. We also look forward to further advancements in fundamental Internet protocols that lead to a faster and more secure Internet for everyone.

Posted by Chris Bentzel, Multiplexing Manager and Bence Béky, HTTP/2 Enabler

Posted:
Today’s Chrome Beta channel release includes new Javascript ES6 features and improved workflows for debugging Service Workers and Web Animations. Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to Chrome for Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS.

ES6 Template Literals

There are many pitfalls of working with strings on the modern web. The Javascript we know today lacks basic string formatting features, doesn’t support multi-line strings, and makes it difficult to protect users from XSS attacks when inserting user-generated content into pages.

Template Literals, introduced in this release, aims to solve these problems. Its basic form adds string formatting into Javascript by providing syntactic sugar for concatenating strings, variables, and the results of functions. Specifically, expressions can be embedded directly into strings when using the backtick operator (`).

var name = "John";
var message = `Hello, ${name}!`;  // Expected result: "Hello John!"

Any code contained within the braces and preceded by the dollar sign will automatically be evaluated and inserted into place.

var message = `1 + 1 = ${1 + 1}!`;  // Expected result: "1 + 1 = 2!"

Besides accepting multi-line strings, Template Literals also introduces the concept of tagged templates which are useful for escaping HTML to prevent XSS attacks and when internationalizing a site.

New features in Chrome Developer Tools

Chrome 36 added Web Animations, unifying several of the animation APIs on the web. This release makes visual debugging easier by allowing developers to slow down playback of their animations on the fly within DevTools.


In Chrome 40 we shipped Service Workers, enabling developers to make their sites load faster and work offline by intercepting network requests to deliver programmatic or cached responses. Until now, developers had to inspect their Service Worker’s cache manually by printing out its contents to the console, making debugging slow. Today’s Beta includes a new section in DevTools for viewing Service Worker caches which can be found by inspecting a Service Worker on chrome://serviceworker-internals.

Other updates in this release


  • ES6 Lexical Declarations cause variables declared with the 'let' keyword to be scoped to their containing block instead of being hoisted to the top of their containing function, giving developers more control over Javascript's tricky scoping rules.
  • The new CSS value image-rendering: pixelated allows scaled images to appear to be composed of very large pixels, trading smooth results for faster image scaling.
  • CSS Media Queries now support any-pointer and any-hover, which function similarly to pointer and hover but can be triggered by any input device, not only the primary one.
  • The Web Audio API now allows developers to temporarily suspend an AudioContext when it’s not in use, improving power consumption. StereoPannerNode is also now supported, enabling left-right panning of an incoming audio stream while maintaining equal power.
  • HTTPS sites that have certificate chains using SHA-1 that are valid past January 1st, 2017 will be treated as “affirmatively insecure” in Chrome UI from this release onwards as part of our plan to gradually sunset SHA-1.
  • Update February 13th: The new CSS values mix-blend-mode and isolation provide control over how an HTML or SVG element blends with the content behind it.

As always, visit chromestatus.com/features for a complete overview of Chrome’s developer features, and circle +Google Chrome Developers for more frequent updates.

`Posted by ${"Erik Arvidsson"}, Software Engineer`

Posted:
The newest Chrome Beta channel release includes several new developer features to help you make richer, more compelling web content and apps, especially for mobile devices. Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to Chrome for Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS.

Service Workers

This release adds service workers, a powerful new API that allows developers to make sites work offline by intercepting network requests to deliver programmatic or cached responses. Besides enabling a rich offline experience, developers can also use the API to achieve dramatic performance improvements by caching UI and other common resources between page loads.



A before and after comparison of a repeat visitor loading a site that uses Service Workers.

Unlike other web technologies, the lifetime of a service worker is independent of the page that installed it. This lays the foundation for a new class of web applications with rich background capabilities. For example, future APIs like Push and Background Sync could do their work even after the page is closed, provided the user has given permission.

This release includes two new APIs for use only within service workers. The Fetch API allows service workers to make network requests—including cross-origin—and return the responses to pages they control. The Cache API can save fetched responses and then return them directly the next time the same resource is requested, bypassing the latency-prone network and the eviction-prone HTTP cache.

These APIs are still under active development and we are committed to keeping our implementation in sync with the specifications as they evolve. This release supports a subset of the Cache API, but developers can use a polyfill for full compatibility. If you’re interested in more in-depth information, check out HTML5 Rocks or our collection of useful service worker “recipes.”

Other updates in this release
  • This release brings support for the new directives introduced in Content Security Policy (CSP) Level 2.
  • The new reportValidity method causes Chrome to draw the user’s attention to form fields with validation errors, saving developers from needing to implement this feature manually in JavaScript.
  • Chrome now supports the minlength attribute, a validation feature that allows developers to declare a lower bound on the number of characters a user can input.
  • Thanks to a collaboration with Intel's Open Source Technology Center, Chrome on Mac now uses HarfBuzz for text shaping which improves performance and rendering of non-Latin text, brings new optimizations, and unifies the font system across all platforms.
As always, visit chromestatus.com/features for a complete overview of Chrome’s developer features, and circle +Google Chrome Developers for more frequent updates.

Posted by Dominic Cooney and Joshua Bell, Software Engineers at your service

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Last September we announced our plan to remove NPAPI support from Chrome, a change that will improve Chrome’s security, speed, and stability as well as reduce complexity in the code base. Since our last update, NPAPI usage has continued its decline. Given this usage data, we will continue with our deprecation plan.

Monthly Plug-in Launch Percentage


Sept 13 May 14 Oct 14
Silverlight 15% 13.3% 11%
Google Talk 8.7% 8.7% 7%
Java 8.9% 7.2% 3.7%
Facebook 6% 4.2% 3.0%
Unity 9.1% 3.1% 1.9%
Google Earth 9.1% 0.1% 0.1%

Currently Chrome supports NPAPI plugins, but they are blocked by default unless the user chooses to allow them for specific sites (via the page action UI). A small number of the most popular plugins are whitelisted and allowed by default. In January 2015 we will remove the whitelist, meaning all plugins will be blocked by default.

In April 2015 NPAPI support will be disabled by default in Chrome and we will unpublish extensions requiring NPAPI plugins from the Chrome Web Store. Although plugin vendors are working hard to move to alternate technologies, a small number of users still rely on plugins that haven’t completed the transition yet. We will provide an override for advanced users (via chrome://flags/#enable-npapi) and enterprises (via Enterprise Policy) to temporarily re-enable NPAPI while they wait for mission-critical plugins to make the transition.

In September 2015 we will remove the override and NPAPI support will be permanently removed from Chrome. Installed extensions that require NPAPI plugins will no longer be able to load those plugins.

For more details on the timeline, including guidance for NPAPI plugin developers, see the NPAPI deprecation guide. With each step in this transition, we get closer to a safer, more mobile-friendly web.

Posted by Justin Schuh, Software Engineer and Plug-in Retirement Planner

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[Cross-posted on the Google Research Blog and the Google Online Security Blog]

At Google, we are constantly trying to improve the techniques we use to protect our users' security and privacy. One such project, RAPPOR (Randomized Aggregatable Privacy-Preserving Ordinal Response), provides a new state-of-the-art, privacy-preserving way to learn software statistics that we can use to better safeguard our users’ security, find bugs, and improve the overall user experience.

Building on the concept of randomized response, RAPPOR enables learning statistics about the behavior of users’ software while guaranteeing client privacy. The guarantees of differential privacy, which are widely accepted as being the strongest form of privacy, have almost never been used in practice despite intense research in academia.  RAPPOR introduces a practical method to achieve those guarantees.

To understand RAPPOR, consider the following example. Let’s say you wanted to count how many of your online friends were dogs, while respecting the maxim that, on the Internet, nobody should know you’re a dog. To do this, you could ask each friend to answer the question “Are you a dog?” in the following way. Each friend should flip a coin in secret, and answer the question truthfully if the coin came up heads; but, if the coin came up tails, that friend should always say “Yes” regardless. Then you could get a good estimate of the true count from the greater-than-half fraction of your friends that answered “Yes”. However, you still wouldn’t know which of your friends was a dog: each answer “Yes” would most likely be due to that friend’s coin flip coming up tails.

RAPPOR builds on the above concept, allowing software to send reports that are effectively indistinguishable from the results of random coin flips and are free of any unique identifiers. However, by aggregating the reports we can learn the common statistics that are shared by many users. We’re currently testing the use of RAPPOR in Chrome, to learn statistics about how unwanted software is hijacking users’ settings.

We believe that RAPPOR has the potential to be applied for a number of different purposes, so we're making it freely available for all to use. We'll continue development of RAPPOR as a standalone open-source project so that anybody can inspect and test its reporting and analysis mechanisms, and help develop the technology. We’ve written up the technical details of RAPPOR in a report that will be published next week at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security.

We’re encouraged by the feedback we’ve received so far from academics and other stakeholders, and we’re looking forward to additional comments from the community. We hope that everybody interested in preserving user privacy will review the technology and share their feedback at rappor-discuss@googlegroups.com.

Posted by Úlfar Erlingsson, Tech Lead Manager, Security Research