There’s reportedly a years-old bug in Chrome OS that could be making location data on any given Chromebook somewhat less-than-private. The bug, first spotted by the Committee on Liberatory Information Technology, exists specifically in how Chromebooks handle Wi-Fi logs. More directly in the records pertaining to connected networks.
Summarily, the logs are housed in unprotected memory and aren’t necessarily easy to decipher. But they can, if viewed by somebody who knows how to read them, reveal location data. And that data would reveal location history for up to a full week. More concerning, the bug will effectively impact every Chromebook available, including the best devices on the market.
Here’s why this location data bug isn’t a huge deal but is still concerning
Now, the location data bug can only technically be taken advantage of by accessing the Chromebook itself. Namely, somebody who knows how to decipher the logs needs physical access to a Chromebook to gain access to the data. So it isn’t altogether likely that anybody who isn’t a major corporation has a lot to worry about.
But they can also be accessed in Guest Mode because, as noted above, they’re stored in unprotected memory. And that means that any Chromebook with Guest Mode turned on could potentially be a source for leaked location data.
Here’s how to protect yourself
Because physical access is required and user log-ins are typically password-protected, the easiest way to prevent any such leak is going to be to turn Guest Mode off entirely. For clarity, Guest Mode allows users who aren’t signed in to effectively log in without a password and access a Chromebook. So that’s going to be the weakest link for this bug.
Thankfully, turning off Guest Mode is easy enough. Users simply need to sign in and then access the Chrome OS Settings app. That can be accessed either via the app launcher or by clicking on the clock at the bottom right-hand side of the UI before clicking the gear-shaped Settings icon. Then, users need to navigate to “People” under the left-hand sidebar menu, before selecting “Manage other people.”
In that menu, there’s an option to turn off “Enable Guest browsing.”