Google claims Chrome OS works under the principle of "defense in depth." This means the platform uses multiple layers of protection and, if one layer is circumvented, all others are still in effect.
It works. Chrome OS is one of the most secure platforms available.
However, when you're on the go, security risks may arise. For example, you could be logged into your account, step away from your machine, and anyone could have at your information. There is a feature called Guest Browsing built into Chrome OS that can help prevent this from happening.
What is Guest Browsing?
With Guest Browsing you can log onto a network and use the Chromebook as you normally would. The only difference is none of your settings are retained — it's like working entirely within an Incognito browser.
Once you close it, nothing is retained. You can log into your Google account (even with two-factor authentication) and, when you log out and log back into Guest Browsing, it's as if you never previously logged in.
Also, Guest Browsing doesn't allow for bookmarks; it doesn't sync with your account; and it doesn't work offline.
How do you use Guest Browsing?
If you sign out of your current Google account on your Chromebook, you should see a button at the bottom left of the screen labeled Guest Browsing. Click the Guest Browsing button, and you will be logged into that special mode (Figure A).
Your Guest browsing session is ready.
If you don't see the Guest Browsing option available, you'll have to enable it. To do that, follow these steps.
- Log into your regular Google account on the device.
- Go to Settings.
- Scroll to the bottom and click Manage Other Users.
- Click the Enable Guest Browsing check box (Figure B).
- Click Done.
Enabling Guest Browsing from Settings.
If you log out of your regular account, you should see the Guest Browsing option available.
In the Users settings windows, you can also restrict sign-ins for specific users; this is very handy if you want to prevent others from logging into your device with their accounts. To use that, click Restrict Sign-in To The Following Users and then add users you want to allow. Restricting logins to specific users does not disable the ability to work with Guest Browsing — it only limits who can log in to your device.
A very worthwhile feature
If you're on the go with your Chromebook, the last thing you want to worry about is someone you don't know accessing your data. By making use of Guest Browsing, you can help prevent that from happening.
I highly recommend Guest Browsing to anyone who uses a Chromebook on the go. You won't have your bookmarks, nor will it retain your history, but the peace of mind it can bring is worth the inconvenience.
Do you feel Chrome OS does enough for security? If not, what would you change on the platform? Let us know in the comments.
- CloudReady has a Chrome OS platform ready for your non-chromebook hardware (TechRepublic)
- How to use secure shell from your Chromebook (TechRepublic)
- Take the time to walk through the new Google Privacy Checkup (TechRepublic)
- Change Chromebook sync options for a better cross-device experience (TechRepublic)
- No, Chrome OS and Chromebooks aren't going away, says Google (ZDNet)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.