Google is currently experimenting with highlighting domain names only in Chrome’s address bar instead of the entire URLs. The feature would be adequately tested in the upcoming Chrome 86 release, with Google company hoping that the change could protect its users against scams and phishing attacks that use misleading URLs.
The Domain names and URLs are one of the primary forms of web security that one has. They let us know when and where we are online. Sometimes, though, these URLs can be misleading too! Hackers and scammers often use fake websites that look plausible enough by using URLs with typos like twittter.com and unfamiliar subdomains like yourbank.sign-in.info, or hyphenated domains like secure-gmail.com. The unsuspecting users online then click and visit these URLs, thinking they belong to the legitimate companies before being tricked into providing their credentials and personal data.
Few browsers like Safari highlight only the URL’s domain name in the address bar. This is done because it looks cleaner and as it makes some of these the online scams more obvious. If a person is used to facebook.com in their address bar and the browser suddenly highlights facebook(dot)com(dot)money(do)biz(dot)scam(dot)inc instead, they will surely get suspicious.
According to Google, the new domain-only feature will be highlighted only to a random subset of users in the newer Chrome version 86. The company wants to check if the change really “helps users realize that they are visiting a malicious website, and would protect them from phishing and other social engineering attacks.” If it does happen and succeed, Google can probably expect it to include it as a permanent feature in the future.
Google earlier developed a technique to show the real-world the use of a name to protect people who look for information from websites scams and phishing attacks. There was a survey study of the same. In that survey, more than 60% of total users were fooled by a misleading brand highlighted in a URL. The lookalike URLs post a grave threat to consumers. The paper studied how accurately the users understand and identify URLs and found that around 96% of the participants report feeling confident in their ability to read and detect a proper URL. Around 40% of the muddied URLs were identified correctly.
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