Google launches Chrome 12, pays out $10K to bug finders

Google on Tuesday launched a stable release of its Chrome 12 browser, including a tool to prevent downloading suspicious files. The company additionally noted that it had paid nearly $10,000 to people who found bugs and exploits in Chrome 12′s code.

Arguably the biggest enhancement the new Chrome offers is the ability to warn users before they download suspected malicious files, which can help keep users and businesses safe from malware. Using its Safe Browsing API, Chrome already warns users when they are visiting a potentially harmful website.

Two other improvements are notable in this Chrome release. First, it adds the ability to better control what data websites store on your PC or Mac, including the ability to delete Flash cookies from inside Chrome. There’s also the addition of hardware-accelerated 3D CSS, which will add higher quality graphics to websites and apps that integrate 3D effects.

To get Chrome 12 up to snuff, Google offered money to outside researchers who found vulnerabilities in its code. One researcher, Sergey Glazunov, was paid a total of $5,133.70 for finding three bugs. Another winner named “miaubiz” was paid $2,000 for finding a vulnerability labeled “High.”

Chrome now has 160 million users. Since May 2010, Chrome’s share of the world browser market has grown substantially. In May 2010, Chrome had 7.05 percent of browser share. As of May 2011, it had captured 12.52 percent of share, while Apple’s Safari had 7.28 percent, Mozilla’s Firefox had 21.71 percent, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had 54.27 percent. Both Firefox and Internet Explorer saw declines during the same period.

I’ve been using the Chrome 12 beta for several weeks, and it’s one of the best browsers I’ve ever used. It’s fast, it’s warned me away from harmful phishing sites, and it offers a strong selection of themes and extensions.

Have you tried Chrome? How do you think it compares to Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9? What else would you like to see implemented into the browsing experience?

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