Google releases Chrome 83 with enhanced privacy controls

Update introduces third-party cookie-blocking in Incognito and DNS-over-HTTPs support

Chrome thumbnail on a computer screen

Google has released a major update for its Chrome web browser that introduces revamped security and privacy controls.

The arrival of Chrome 83 comes two months after Google announced that it had cancelled development of version 82 in order to "maintain stability" during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The latest iteration of the market-leading web browser is all about improving security, no doubt fuelled by the growing number of people working remotely

It's now easier to manage cookies, with Chrome 83 enabling users to see how cookies are used on a per-website basis. Incognito Mode, Google's private browsing option, will also start blocking third-party cookies by default.

"In addition to deleting cookies every time you close the browser window in Incognito, we will also start blocking third-party cookies by default within each Incognito session and include a prominent control on the New Tab Page," Google explained in a blog post. "You can allow third-party cookies for specific sites by clicking the 'eye' icon in the address bar."

The Site Settings section is now split into two sections to make it easier to manage more sensitive permissions, such as webcam and microphone access, as well as recent permissions activity, while a new 'You and Google' section at the top of the Chrome settings lets users manage sync settings, giving them more control over what data is shared with Google. 

There's also a new "Safety Check" feature that's been added to the settings menu. If you run this, Chrome will tell you if any of your stored passwords have been compromised in a data breach.

Chrome 83 also offers two additional opt-in security features. The first, Enhanced Safe Browsing, sends webpages to Google Safe Browsing to proactively check if they're safe. The other, Secure DNS, employs DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) encryption for DNS lookups in order to help prevent attackers from observing what sites you visit or sending you to phishing websites.

For network administrators that need to keep an eye on their users' activity, Kenji Baheux, Chrome product manager, said in a blog post that Chrome will disable DoH in managed environments that declare relevant enterprise policies.

"We’ve also added new DNS-over-HTTPS enterprise policies to allow for a managed configuration of Secure DNS and encourage IT administrators to look into deploying DNS-over-HTTPS for their users," said Baheux. "We believe that our approach strikes a good balance between moving security and privacy forward and maintaining user expectations."

Chrome 83 is initially available for Chrome OS, Windows and macOS, with Android and Linux updates coming soon.

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