Google tries to help users: shortened web addresses to recognize phishing scam sites. Here's what changes
New move by Google to fight phishing and online scams: starting from Chrome version 86, shortened URLs will be tested to highlight suspicious web addresses and help users recognize them.
With short URLs, according to Google, it should be easier to recognize fake sites: many of them, in fact, imitate the address of a famous site and also the graphics, logos and user interface in order to mislead those who visit them. The user, believing himself to be on a safe and reliable site, gives his personal data (e.g. Facebook login details on a site that imitates Facebook login) to the scammers. Online identity theft or bank data theft is usually the next step, and in both cases these are serious problems that should be avoided at all costs. Will shortening URLs be enough to make users open their eyes? We'll find out starting in October.
Short URLs on Chrome: how they work
We can easily imagine what Chrome's short URLs will look like, because we already know what Safari's URLs look like and other browsers have long made the same choice. Let's take the example of the home page of Wikipedia Italy: today Chrome users read the URL "https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagina_principale", tomorrow they will read only "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagina_principale". However, they will be able to read the full address by resting the mouse pointer on the address bar: after a couple of seconds they will see "https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagina_principale" again.
According to Google, removing the initial characters of the address will make it easier to see if it is false (for example "en-wikipedia.org"). Note that with this system you can no longer read if the site uses the HTTPS protocol instead of the older and less secure HTTP, but there is still the padlock icon that indicates this information.
When will the new Chrome feature arrive
Google will not release this new feature right away nor for everyone: it will test it starting from Chrome version 86, which should arrive around October, and only for a limited number of users chosen at random. From the feedback received it will be able to understand if it is really useful or not. Those who want to participate voluntarily in the test, however, can install version 86 of Chrome from the Canary or Dev channels (i.e. channels dedicated to developers and beta testers of Chrome) and enable these flags in the settings: #omnibox-ui-reveal-steady-state-url-path-query-and-ref-on-hover and #omnibox-ui-sometimes-elide-to-registrable-domain.