Long gone are the days where the main web-browser available was a patchy inconsistent piece of s#!t that is known as Internet Explorer – as since its launch in 2008, Google Chrome has become the overwhelming favourite amongst users. It is well documented that Chrome’s largest weakness is its bulky memory consumption – and the most recent version has only exacerbated this problem….

In the current technological landscape of ever-increasing cyber threats, the protection of data – in particular, sensitive data such as bank account details and passwords – are of the utmost importance.

Since the recent discovery of speculative execution side-channel attacks, like Spectre and Meltdown, there has been a frantic scramble across the major tech firms to patch a vulnerability that Daniel Gruss of Graz University of Technology, who discovered Meltdown, described as “probably one of the worst CPU bugs ever found.” Google have released their answer to this problem in the latest update of Chrome, but it comes with an unfortunate side-effect. Google have admitted that Chrome 67 increases overall memory use by up to 13%…but why?

Security, security, security.

The new feature on Chrome 67 that causes this memory drain is called Site Isolation, which essentially adds protection against certain vulnerabilities such as Spectre.

What is Spectre, I hear you ask?

In a nutshell, Spectre is a vulnerability that exploits the branch prediction feature of microprocessors. Effectively, microprocessors guess which task will be needed next, and performs it before it is known whether it’s needed or not. In the situation where the prediction is wrong, this can leave a loose end – exposing private data. This also means that basically every computer and mobile device is susceptible to an attack.

But don’t fret, Site Isolation should fix these problems for Chrome – meaning your data is safe (for now anyway). However, we will be paying for this security in RAM. Site Isolation causes Chrome to create more render processes – and thus it rinses the memory.

Do we have a choice?

Well, no, not at all – there is no opt-out option – which is probably fair considering the magnitude of the threat. However, have faith that Google has enough resources at its disposal to rectify the situation in the long term so that we remain protected, but without the annoying memory loss.