With over three billion users, Chrome is the world’s most popular web browser. It also has a commanding 65% market share, over triple that of Safari in second place. But should you stop using Chrome after new research found it to be the “most vulnerability-ridden browser in 2022”?
Between 1 January 2022 and 5 October 2022, Atlas VPN reports that 303 vulnerabilities were discovered for Chrome, compared to 117 for Mozilla Firefox, 103 for Microsoft Edge, 26 for Safari and none for Opera.
Looking at the all-time figures, Chrome also comes top with 3159 vulnerabilities since it launched in September 2008. Notably, Firefox (2004), Safari (2003) and Opera (1995) are all older than Chrome, but have significantly fewer lifetime vulnerabilities at 2361, 1139 and 344, respectively. Edge, launched in 2015, has a lifetime total of 806 vulnerabilities.
So what do all these numbers mean, and should you consider changing your web browser?
The main takeaway is size matters. In being the dominant web browser, Chrome has the biggest target on its back. Understandably, this may make some Chrome users uncomfortable. For Mac users, in particular, the relative peace and quiet with Safari could be tempting.
That said, Chrome has two critical mitigating factors in its favor. First, Google has arguably the most robust and open vulnerability reporting program. Second, Chrome’s popularity means Google pays the highest bounties to its security partners (so-called ethical hackers) for reporting vulnerabilities. This means flaws can be patched before malicious hackers discover them.
Consequently, this is not purely a numbers game. Yes, much, much lower numbers — like those reported for Safari — are a good thing, but it is unknown vulnerabilities which carry the greatest threat. Vulnerabilities which go undetected and unreported, all the while being exploited.
So should you stop using Chrome? Those who choose to read the data literally will think so, and it does make a strong case for less targeted browsers. That said, Chrome’s popularity brings with it a vast array of ethical hackers, which puts the browser in a potentially class-leading position to discover and patch flaws.
In short, if you aren’t wedded to Chrome it may be wise to explore your options. But for those committed to Google’s browser, don’t let the numbers scare you off.
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