Chome has added new protections against the Meltdown and Spectre exploits that target hardware vulnerabilities in modern processors — but the new version of the browser uses a lot more memory.
In a nutshell, Meltdown and Spectre are exploits that allow for malicious programs to steal data that is being processed on the computer by other legitimate programs.
Chrome has introduced a new ‘Site Isolation’ security feature that acts as a second line of defense for attacks where one website tries to access another’s data inside the browser.
It makes sure that pages from different websites are always put into different processes (i.e. instances of computer programs being executed), each running in isolation with limited allowances.
However, additional processes means more Chrome uses more RAM. Google cites that as one of the major known issues with this new, more secure architecture in a security blog post.
The Mountain View-based tech giant writes that overall memory use in Chrome is higher by 10 to 13 percent when isolating all sites with many tabs open.
Still, if you consider that this is keeping you safe from scams that could snag sensitive information from your password keeper, email account or any of the rest of your daily web apps — it’s a fair trade-off for most.
If you’re a Chrome user who has 4GB of RAM or less on your device, though, you may see a noticeable performance reduction when it comes to the amount of tabs you can open.
The new safeguards are enabled by default in Chrome 67 on Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS, and are coming to Android with Chrome 68.