PSA: A New Security Update Is Available For Most Chromebooks

Acer Chromebook 11 CES 2018 AM AH 0040

There’s a recently released update for most Chrome OS devices on the market that most users may not have even considered installing but which really should be installed for optimal security. Namely, the update applies to the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) which effectively prevents or allows the reading of keys associated with every aspect of the device. The patch in question patches holes which may have inadvertently allowed unauthorized access to those keys. However, this is one update that doesn’t install alongside the usual over-the-air updates. Instead, they require what is called a powerwash, essentially a complete wipe and reboot of the Chromebook in question. Despite that, completing the update is fairly straightforward. It also won’t necessarily result in a loss of all data as long as Google Chrome is being synced to logged in accounts – although it’s important to note that anything stored locally, such as in the downloads folder is likely to be deleted.

For starters, users will want to check to see whether going through the trouble is even necessary. That can be accomplished by navigating to Chrome settings hidden at the URL “chrome://system” in the Chrome browser. Once the page loads, users simply need to hold down the CRTL key and press the “F” key to open a page search dialog before searching for “TPM.” That should bring the page down to a section called TPM version, which can be expanded. Firmware version numbers affected by the bug include 00000000000041f, 0000000000000420, 0000000000000628, and 0000000000008520. If one of those is listed, users will need to perform an update. Otherwise, their device is already up to date or is not included in the updates. Firmware versions 0000000000000422, 000000000000062b, and 0000000000008521 are up to date. If an update is needed, users will want to navigate to the URL “chrome://settings/syncSetup” in Chrome to ensure that their device is syncing all of the items they need to save. Items stored locally can be moved to the Google Drive folder via Chrome OS’s built-in file manager Users may want to give the system a few minutes to finish syncing depending on how much needs to be backed up and system U.I. in the file manager should alert users if there are items still being backed up from local storage.

Once everything is backed up, users will then need to navigate to “chrome://settings,” scroll to the bottom to click “advanced,” and then scroll to the bottom again to select “Powerwash.” Once the Powerwash U.I. boots up – which should only take a few seconds – users will want to make sure the checkbox next to “Update firmware for added security” is selected. Finally, clicking to initiate the Powerwash will restart and update the Chromebook in question with the new firmware installed, if it’s available. Signing into the device should immediately begin syncing the selected items and apps so users can return to how their device was configured prior to the reboot.