Hidden URLs may become the new thing in Chrome 86 as Google currently experiments it against spoofing and malicious websites

According to a recent update on the Chromium blog, Google is currently experimenting with how URLs are shown in the address bar on web desktop versions of the upcoming Chrome 86. There is a possibility that Google will hide the URL completely with only the main domain part visible in the address bar.

The reason why Google is working on something like this is the numerous challenges that users face because of malicious sites misusing these URLs to dupe innocent users.

In the modern world of web, URLs are considered as the primary way through which the users determine whether a website is a spoof or not, whether it is identifiable and authentic or not? There are different ways through which cybercriminals manipulate URLs and confuse users about the identity of a website. This then leads to crimes like phishing, scamming, and other forms of internet harassment begin too.

A study suggests that more than 60 percent of people in the world have become targets of such phishing attempts because of a misleading famous brand name appearing in a URL bar. Unfortunately, hackers and cybercriminals find one way or the other to attack innocent users, and misleading URLs has become just another way now.

To take care of this issue, different browsers and search engines have tried multiple things, like some of them decided not to show the URLs at all, while some show only the domain part by default. Some browsers just highlight the most significant part of the domain visually.

Now, Google has begun some experiments to understand through real-world-usage, whether showing URLs is more beneficial for the users or hiding it, and if showing the domain part only is a better way to protect them from malicious or spoof sites. Also, they want to find out through these experiments if they hide the full form of URLs, will the users be able to judge by these URLs if a site is a spoof or not?

For people who are a part of Google’s experiment, there are some options available for them if they prefer to see the full URL. By hovering over the visible portion of the URL, the user will be able to see the full URL expanding. The second option appears when a user right-clicks on the URL and choose ‘Always choose full URLs’ option from the context menu that will appear upon the click.

Unfortunately, Google is not receiving a lot of positive feedback for its experiment to help people. The people who are against hiding the full URL believe that Google is trying to push in its agenda. It is possible that by hiding URLs, Google may try to mask the sites coming from accelerated mobile pages, and not the website directly.

While the concern is valid to some extent, let us wait and see how Google responds to these issues.



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