A Buggy Google Chrome Update Spectacularly Crashed Apple Macs, Here's Why

apple mac pro

What do Hollywood, Apple users, and Google Chrome share in common? A wave of unbootable MacBooks and Mac Pros. A Google Keystone update was able to damage certain Mac files and shut the affected devices down unexpectedly.

This past week, several Hollywood film editors reported that their Mac devices were unable to reboot. Affected Apple users included the video editing team of ABC’s Modern Family. Many of these film editors use Avid Media Composer software and initially believed that a software bug or virus was to blame. Google later confessed that a Chrome update was the real culprit.

Google Keystone Bug

Most Mac devices include “SIP” or “system integrity protection”. SIP was originally introduced in 2015 and is present on Mac devices with OS X 10.11 or later. It prevents various important files and folders from being deleted without authorization. Many film editors disable SIP so that they are able to use third-party graphics cards.

Google Keystone version 1.2.13.75 includes a flaw that is able to damage certain files, specifically the /var folder. According to Google, “This results in system instability that may include failure to launch new UI applications, failure to resolve hostnames in most already-running programs, and failure to reboot successfully.”

If you have not disabled SIP, then you will not experience any issues. SIP was able to prevent the bug from making any harmful changes. However, if you have disabled it, you will most likely be unable to reboot your device.  

Recovery and Fixes

Google has offered a few directions to help affected users reboot their device. First, users will need to boot into recovery mode. Then, users will open the Terminal Application from their Utilities menu. Once they are there, they will need to run the following command:
Recover and fixes
Users will then need to run reboot their device. These actions should remove the buggy Chrome update and restore the affected files. Besides these directions, Google has not stated when a fix will be available. Google will soon release a number of new features for Chrome. It is expected that these updates will be available this season. Let’s hope that a fix for this bug precedes these updates.
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