Google Chrome will soon stop pesky websites from hijacking your browser's back button

By Sourabh Kulesh | Published on 19 Dec 2018
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Google Chrome will first silently flag the page and if found at fault, the flag will be enabled to skip these false entries on the ‘back’ button entirely.

Google Chrome will soon stop pesky websites from hijacking your browser's back button

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You must have witnessed a case when you visited a page looking for something really important, but when you didn’t find it and pressed the ‘back’ button, nothing happened. The page gets refreshed and you are greeted with the same content over and over again, leaving you frustrated. The only way to go to the previous page is by repeatedly clicking the mouse button. Google has taken a note of it and is now planning to roll out a solution for the problem in the backend.

Called “history manipulation” by Chrome team, the issue has been in Google’s crosshairs for quite some time now. The reason for this behaviour is simple. Websites are abusing users’ trust in the back button by maliciously inserting ads into the tab history. This prevents user to go back on the previous page or takes users to a different page than expected. Google has found a way to combat this history manipulation.

According to a report in 9to5google, a trio of new code changes has been discovered in Chromium’s Gerrit source code management that will help Chrome decide whether a history entry is legitimate or not. Initially, these pages will be silently flagged, and Chrome will send metrics about the pages to Google for analysis. One of the commits says, “Adds metrics for history manipulation intervention. This CL uses the skippable flag on a NavigationEntry to log various Metrics. There is no functional change.”

The ultimate goal of flagging is to skip these false entries entirely when the flag is enabled. A description of a commit reads, “Mark entries to be skipped on back for history manipulation intervention. Entries that are added to the back/forward list without the user's intention are marked to be skipped on subsequent back button invocations. This CL only adds the bit and subsequent CLs will add metrics and the intervention logic based on this bit.”

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Sourabh Kulesh

A journalist at heart; has knowledge of a wide gamut of topics related to enterprise and consumer tech.

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