Google Chrome Experimenting With Safer URLs for Users

The latest beta version of the Google Chrome Web browser includes potential URL protection that could make it harder for phishing schemes to take advantage of users.

The Google Chrome team is experimenting with improved URLs that could provide better protection for users against phishing attacks that trick them into visiting malicious Websites.

The early-stage tests involve an "origin-chip" feature that replaces long and often-hard-to-decipher URLs with short URLs made up only of a Website's actual domain name, according to a May 5 story by The Register. "Phishers might have a tougher time hooking victims if a new feature introduced into the experimental strain of Google's Chrome browser makes it into a future full release," reported The Register.

Instead of long URLs that are confusing and hard to identify as genuine, the shorter origin-chip URLs would mean that phishers couldn't create offshoot URLs that could deceive users into visiting their sites.

Google previously tested the feature in beta versions of Chrome, but it was dropped when users didn't like it, the story reported. The feature was "subsequently relegated to a default 'off' state in later updates to the experimental Chrome fork, 'Canary,'" which is where the latest experiments with the feature are taking place.

The experiments involving the origin chip today don't mean that the feature will eventually be included in Chrome browsers of the future. Instead, the testing is allowing developers to see if it is something that they would want to incorporate if the testing shows promise.

Developer and beta versions of Chrome typically include potential features that are tried out before eventual inclusion on stable release versions of the browser.

In April 2014, Google released the latest Version 35 beta edition of Chrome, which included a wide range of features that promises to enable developers to build even richer online content for Chrome users, especially for mobile devices.

One of the biggest updates is a touch-action Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) property, which gives developers more control over touch and zoom input in their apps, including a mechanism to selectively disable touch scrolling, pinch-zooming or double-tap-zooming on parts of their Web content. Developers also found new tools to control Web content on desktop computers using mouse scroll wheel events with the ctrlKey modifier set.

Chrome 35 beta also showed off several new JavaScript features defined in the ECMAScript 6 standard, including Promise, WeakMaps, WeakSets and Object.observe. Also included is Shadow DOM, which allows developers to scope their HTML markup, CSS, hiding the implementation details of complex components, while also allowing them to build their own first-class elements and APIs just like the <video> or <audio>, when combined with Custom Elements, according to an eWEEK report.

Shadow DOM includes many changes and improvements made to the specification since the days of the prefixed implementation of Shadow DOM made available in Chrome 25, so developers should check the latest documentation as well as the up-to-date HTML5 Rocks articles as they consider using the features.

Several other features were removed in the Chrome 35 beta, which is done periodically to simplify code bases, minimize security attack surfaces and keep Chrome up to date for users. Removed features included HTMLVideoElement-specific prefixed full-screen API, TextTrackCue constructor, <isindex>, Legacy Web Notifications, support for NPAPI on Linux, and Attr.isId, ownerElement, prefix setter.

Google's latest Chrome 34 Web browser was released April 8.

In September 2013, the Chrome browser celebrated its fifth birthday. Launched in 2008 as a desktop or laptop application, Chrome today is widely used as a mobile Web browser on many different devices.

Chrome has had quite a ride since its birth. In June 2012, it surpassed Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the world's most used browser for the first time, and it has added many useful features over the years to encourage even more users to adopt it.