Google is experimenting with showing domain names only in the Chrome address bar instead of full URLs. The feature will be tested in the upcoming release of Chrome 86, with Google hoping the change could protect users against fraud and phishing attacks using rogue URLs.
Domain names and URLs are one of the most basic forms of Internet security we have, letting us know quickly where we are online. However, sometimes, they can be used to cheat. Hackers and scammers often create fake websites that look trustworthy using URLs with unknown subtypes typos (twittter.com) or unknown subdomains (yourbank.sign-in.info) or hyphenated domains (safe-gmail.com ). Suspicious users then visit these URLs thinking they belong to legitimate companies before being tricked into donating their credentials.
Some browsers like Safari only show the URL domain name in the address bar, partly because it looks cleaner, but also because it makes some of these scams more visible. If you are used to seeing facebook.com in your address bar and your browser suddenly shows facebook.com.money.biz.scam.inc instead, you (hopefully) get suspicious.
Google says the new domain-only feature will appear to a random group of users in Chrome version 86. The company wants to see if the change “helps users realize they are visiting a malicious website and protects them from phishing and social engineering attacks “. If this happens, we can expect it to become a permanent feature in the future.
If you did not sign up for the experiment, but would like to see what it looks like, you can download Chrome 86 through open chrome channels or dev channels: // flags, enable the following flags, # omnibox-ui-clear-stable – state-url-path-query-and-ref-on-hover and # omnibox-ui-ever-elide-to-register-domain, and restart Chrome to try it out. Chrome 86 is not expected as a steady release until October.