Attention, internet: The new update to Google Chrome is out. Chrome 96 (full name 96.0.4664.45 — catchy) is rolling out to all of our Google browsers this week. With it, we get some cool new features and, more importantly, essential security patches. That means if you don’t update, you could be putting your digital security at risk.
Critical security patches
The only reason you need to update to Chrome 96 is this one: the new version includes patches for 25 identified security vulnerabilities. While the risk profile of most of them tops out at “low” or “medium,” Google has highlighted seven as “high” risk, including:
- High CVE-2021-38007: Type Confusion in V8. Reported by Polaris Feng and SGFvamll at Singular Security Lab on 2021-09-29
- High CVE-2021-38008: Use after free in media. Reported by Marcin Towalski of Cisco Talos on 2021-10-26
- High CVE-2021-38009: Inappropriate implementation in cache. Reported by Luan Herrera (@lbherrera_) on 2021-10-16
- High CVE-2021-38006: Use after free in storage foundation. Reported by Sergei Glazunov of Google Project Zero on 2021-08-17
- High CVE-2021-38005: Use after free in loader. Reported by Sergei Glazunov of Google Project Zero on 2021-08-18
- High CVE-2021-38010: Inappropriate implementation in service workers. Reported by Sergei Glazunov of Google Project Zero on 2021-10-2
- High CVE-2021-38011: Use after free in storage foundation. Reported by Sergei Glazunov of Google Project Zero on 2021-11-09
Whether you can decode all of that or not, the only way to protect yourself from these security vulnerabilities is to update your browser ASAP.
Dark mode settings for each site
Even if you’re an avid dark mode user, sometimes you don’t want all websites to default to a darker theme. With Chrome 96, Google is testing a new feature that lets you choose dark mode settings on a site-by-site basis.
Since this feature is still in the testing phase, you’ll need to enable its flag to get it working. To start, copy and paste the following into your Chrome URL menu bar, then hit go to see if it’s available on your end:
Once the feature is enabled, you’ll be able to add sites to a list of dark mode exceptions; when you visit those sites in the future, Chrome will not trigger dark mode.
One cool new change that comes with Chrome 96 is an effort to make navigating through your web history a bit faster. Chrome will now save a cache of the websites you recently visited, and will turn to that cache when you use the navigation arrows (or keyboard shortcuts) to move back through your history. Google claims here that this change will result in “instant navigation to previous-visited webpages.”
Clipboard now preserves PNG metadata
In previous versions of Chrome, the system stripped PNG files of their metadata before being read. Google has decided to stop doing that, and go the more traditional route of preserving this metadata. That should result in faster read speeds for PNG files — as much as 14 times faster, according to Google.
Chrome 96 features plenty of developer-only features as well, which you can learn more about in Google’s Chrome Developer log.
How to update Google Chrome
The features and patches above aren’t going to be of any use to you if you don’t update your browser. Luckily, Google has a solid auto-updated system in place, and it’s possible your browser has already updated without you noticing.
To check, click the three dots in the upper right corner of your browser and choose “Settings,” then “About Google Chrome.” (Alternatively, click the three dots, choose “Help,” then “About Google Chrome.”) If your browser is fully up-to-date, you’ll see that here. If not, you’ll be able to update from this page. If there’s an update available, you might also have seen a large “update” button in your browser taskbar already. Click that, and you’ll be good to go.