It was earlier this year that the previously bullet-proof Google Chrome was officially hacked for the first time. Whilst the hack in question involved the use of an internal security flaw that has since been patched, hackers were only able to reach the browser's guts by breaking through the barrier of the sandbox that Chrome provides, which allows code to run in a safe, self-contained environment.
Whilst it was never officially confirmed, it's strongly believed that hackers only made it through Chrome's sandbox thanks to Adobe's Flash plug-in, which requires that many holes be left in the sandbox wall so that Flash can use features of the host computer, with Flash itself being notoriously insecure and open to exploits. Naturally this creates a conduit through which hacks may be executed.
Likewise, those who use Chrome will have no-doubt spotted that the vast majority, if not all of their browser crashes are related to Flash, either on a tab or browser level; Flash really has been the weak link in the Chrome equation, up until now that is.
As of Google Chrome 21, support for a new Flash sandbox in Windows has been introduced - including Windows XP, co-developed by Google and Adobe over a two year period, demonstrating that the two firms had indeed been listening to consumer complaints and were aware of issues for quite some time.
The new sandbox is claimed to be "as secure" as Chrome's native sandbox system and, has been made possible through the use of Chrome's latest PPAPI plug-in architecture, whereas previously, Flash was implemented in the aging NPAPI plug-in standard. The benefits of PPAPI don't just stop at security, however; stability has been improved, reducing the chance of a Flash crash by 20 per cent, with crashes less likely to affect the browser as a whole, likewise, PPAPI provides access to 3D acceleration, allowing Flash compositing to take place on the GPU, for faster and smoother animation.
As a side-benefit, the new plug-in will allow Flash for Chrome to run fully in Windows 8 Metro? mode, something not previously possible with the old architecture. With this latest development, Chrome has patched one of its greatest weaknesses and is ready to defend its title of Browser King with renewed vigor.