Among the several new beneficial and useful features in Chrome v94, Google has offered two concerning developer-facing APIs. They could be a risk to security and privacy. There is, however, a way to turn of the ‘Idle Detection’ API.
Google released the Chrome v94 to the general public. Among several new and useful features, the search giant has also included two APIs, one of which is ‘Idle Detection’. Apple and Mozilla have already called out Google for introducing the same.
Google Chrome v94 has APIs that could help some websites steal resources and offer more information about other user devices:
Google Chrome version 94 has now entered the ‘Stable’ channel. The latest version of the popular web browser has already started rolling out as an OTA Update.
Google emits Chrome 94 with 'Idle Detection' API to detect user inactivity, despite opposition https://t.co/JpfG3qULMC
— The Register (@TheRegister) September 22, 2021
The Chrome v94 contains the ‘Idle Detection’ API. The API (Application Programing Interface) essentially allows developers of websites, web apps, and online services to know when a user is idle or is not engaging with the website, app, or digital platform.
Mozilla, the maker of Firefox web browser, claims malicious sites could utilize the API to utilize the device’s compute resources without the user consenting or knowing about it.
#infosec #informationsecurity #hacking #security New Google Chrome update has a dangerous idle detection feature that will track system usage in detail https://t.co/kYK8wYFjiS pic.twitter.com/7SKpCosB3e
— Cyber Security (@Webimprints) September 22, 2021
The second concerning API offers a new developer-side notification for global signals such as interaction with other apps instead of only the current browser window. Needless to add, web developers will now have an even better indication about the others apps and services users are interacting with.
How to switch off Idle Detection in the latest version of Chrome web browser?
As mentioned above, the Idle Detection API allows websites to detect when users are not actively using the device. The Chrome development team reportedly insists the API will be useful for chat applications to deliver timely notifications to users.
There are some valid situations or reasons to keep the Idle Detection active. However, except for Chat notifications, individual users with personal devices, may not have much use of the same.
So, if you're a Chrome user, you might want to be aware of the idle detection they just added: https://t.co/eSxiq0c1hx
Esp. if you use it for work
It's enabled by default, you can kill it from chrome://settings/content/idleDetection
— djh (@oneandoneis2) September 22, 2021
In case users do not want any website to know if they are actively using the digital platform or not, they should switch off Idle Detection inside Google Chrome v94.
Interestingly, Google doesn’t seem to offer any easy-to-reach setting within the Chrome web browser to switch off Idle Detection. But users can copy-paste a simple line inside the browser to bring up the exact setting.
How to disable Chrome 94 controversial IDLE detection
Visit this URL and then disable it (enabled by default):
— CK's Technology News (@CKsTechNews) September 22, 2021
To switch off the Idle Detection API, launch Chrome and enter the following line in the address bar:
Under the Default behavior, select: “Don’t allow sites to know when you’re actively using your device”
The current setting is set to “Sites can ask to know when you’re actively using your device.” by default.