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Chrome Gets Custom Notification Buttons, Drops RC4 Encryption

January 21, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

If it seems like there are tons of Googlers and non-Googlers from all corners of the globe working on Chrome and its open-source, upstream Chromium counterpart all the time, that’s because there are. Chrome builds for every platform get nightly updates with tons of code commits from tons of coders, sometimes incorporating hobbyists’ changes from the open-source Chromium community project. These changes range from the tiniest of bugfixes to huge under the hood optimizations that change the way Chrome works in some cases. The newest update, hitting Windows, Mac and 64 bit Linux, since the 32 bit Linux version is being discontinued, brings Chrome to version 48 and has a couple of big new features, along with 37 new security fixes.

The first big feature of this update is custom notification buttons. In essence, this feature integrates with Chrome’s desktop notifications and allowing the sites and sources responsible for the notifications to add custom buttons to them, allowing users to complete tasks straight from the notification itself. These tasks can be just about anything from scheduling a cab for a rainy day to responding to an email. Not all sites will support the new feature at first, so keep an eye out for more sites to use the feature as adoption picks up.

The other headline feature of this update is the total elimination of support for the ancient RC4 encryption standard. The RC4 standard came about in 1987 as one of the earliest encryption ciphers used for networks. The Internet Engineering Task Force called for RC4 to be killed off in light of a rash of attacks back in February of 2015 that rendered the RC4 standard nearly useless. It can be cracked, at this point, in a matter of days through sheer brute force methods, making it a matter of time for determined hackers to get a hold of users’ information under RC4 encryption. The vestige of an encryption standard is already unsupported for the HTTPS standard, but Google, Microsoft and Mozilla vowed to drop support entirely. As of this update, trying to open any pages featuring RC4 security results in an error message.