Google states the reason behind the experiments of URL display

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Harsirat Kaur
Harsirat Kaur
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Google tries to advance its technologies, software and cloud computing all the time. The technology giant ensures that its customers have what they want and their data is safe and protected. Other software companies like Microsoft have a reputation of not doing anything to solve piracy issues. But, Google takes it upon itself to give a solution first-hand.

If you use the Internet, you are well aware with URLs. They are the web addresses that specify the location on a computer network. If you want to share something with your friends, you can simply copy and paste the URL. If you are writing a paper, you cite the URL as reference or bibliography. The use of URL is immense. So, how will you feel if the URL is tampered with? Through URL, we don’t even realize when we become a victim of phishing or social engineering attacks. This is why, Google has been experimenting on some users to see how selected URL will make a difference.

Google experiments with URL
Source: ESET Endpoint Security
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Google announced the activity through a blog post.

In a Chromium blog post, Google published various details to show how Google Chrome will display URLs. Emily Stark, Eric Mill, Shweta Panditrao, and Chrome Security Team wrote, “In Chrome 86, we’re likewise going to experiment with how URLs are shown in the address bar on desktop platforms. Our goal is to understand whether showing URLs this way helps users realize they’re visiting a malicious website, and protects them from phishing and social engineering attacks.”

What will be the experiment?

In the experiment, Google will hide a part of the URL and leave only the domain name by default. If you want to view it, simply place your cursor on the URL space and you will get the original URL. By this, the users will have full access to the site. They will also stray clear of the scam activities done through false URLs. If you want to display the full URL, you can right click on the address bar on ‘Always show full URLs.’

Google experiments with URK
via Google blog post

Google has not indicated the time frame of this experiment. If you want to participate in this experiment, you can install Chrome Canary or Dev and enable these flags below:

  • #omnibox-ui-reveal-steady-state-url-path-query-and-ref-on-hover
  • #omnibox-ui-sometimes-elide-to-registrable-domain
  • #omnibox-ui-hide-steady-state-url-path-query-and-ref-on-interaction

The main agenda behind the experiment is to understand how the scammers perform phishing and social engineering attacks on the users. Google has started these experiments in the open so as to give the users transparency on what its browser is intending to do. It will also show how the findings of this experiment will benefit people.

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