Why is Google preparing to get rid of the URL?

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Goodbye URL

Goodbye to the URL? We are probably seeing the last moments of the famous URL on the Google platform. Some sources from Google reveal that it will, without a doubt, be one of the most controversial measures that the company will take. However, the experts responsible for making this decision say it is a necessary measure to increase web security and curb cybercriminals. Find out more here.

Why Google will say goodbye to the URL

In an interview with Wired, Adrienne Porter Felt, Chrome's engineering manager has announced what could be taken as the decision to remove the URL to improve Google Chrome's security.

According to Porter, users have faced difficulties in understanding URLs, as they are difficult to read and it is not easy to decipher which part of the URL is safe and which is not. Therefore, Porter believes that URLs do not guarantee the identity of websites.

She also points out that it is necessary to move towards a new way of ensuring that the identity of the websites is understandable to all users and not only to experts.

Therefore, Google is already debating how to show Chrome´s users the identity of the website in a clearer way without the famous URL.

The debate has begun and although many experts have considered different alternatives to replace the URLs, it has not been easy to find the solution. Even Justin Schul, the boss in charge of Chrome development, still has several doubts about how this radical change should be implemented.

Anyway, Google security experts have decided to keep in secrecy the schemes they are working in to avoid further controversy. But we all know that this will be inevitable.

What is an URL?

The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the format that web addresses have today. They serve to guide browsers to the correct internet protocol that identifies web servers.

In other words, a URL is an address on the internet that when found and displayed by a browser, shows the user a specific content, for example, documents, images, audio. In general, any type of digital content.

The sequence of characters of which a URL is composed of contains information about the name of the computer or computer that hosts the content, the directory, the name of the file and the type of protocol with which the resources are accessed.

Normally, the elements that make up a URL are scheme, authority, route, query, and fragment.

Among the most used URL protocols are HTTP, HTTPS, MAILTO, and FTP. The HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol) is the most used of all. While the HTTPS (HyperText Transport Protocol Secure) is the one used to identify the connection to secure servers.

Attempts to fire the URL

The intention to get rid of the URL is not new. In 2014, the same team of engineers working in Chrome put to work something called "origin chip". This function tried to replace the traditional format of the URLs by only showing the domain name so that the users could have a certainty of any website identity. If the user wanted to discover the complete URL, he could click on the origin chip to discover it.

Although the experiment with the origin chip was well received by some experts, others opposed it and Google stopped its massive launch in the new version of Chrome that year. However, the original chip test helped Chrome engineers to better understand the operation of URLs and the interaction we have with them.

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URLs have become unintelligible strings that combine third-party components or are masked by link shorteners and redirection schemes that cybercriminals take advantage of to create malicious sites.

According to Parisa Trabiz, Google's engineering director, his team is prepared to face the change of URLs and remembers how the HTTPS encryption initiative generated a lot of controversy at first.

However, it was later accepted by the majority of the technology companies and browsers when they were invited to participate in the project. Trabiz thinks the same situation will happen when it's time to say goodbye to URLs to move to a more reliable scheme.

The Chrome team believes that the change should be done in an order so that there is no chaos from the messy URLs. On the contrary, it is necessary to improve the identification of the identity taking into account the good and the bad face of the URL.

Porter Felt said that his team is constantly working on this project and will have some results for the first months of 2019. We'll see which way the Google security team takes us in this crucial step for their Chrome browser and its millions of daily users.

 

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