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by John W. Simek, Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Upcoming Google Chrome 117 to Drop Website Lock Icon

May 3, 2023

Encryption is your friend. Encryption protects the unauthorized access and privacy of our data. For years, we’ve all been taught to look for the lock icon in the browser to indicate a website secured using HTTPS. As reported in Bleeping Computer, those days are numbered. The lock symbol doesn’t really tell us much given that around 99% of web pages access using Google Chrome are encrypted over HTTPS. It’s not just the legitimate websites. Cyber criminals are also using secure websites to present malicious phishing sites and for the delivery of malware. In other words, the lock icon doesn’t necessarily mean the website is safe. As Google stated, “When HTTPS was rare, the lock icon drew attention to the additional protections provided by HTTPS. Today, this is no longer true, and HTTPS is the norm, not the exception, and we’ve been evolving Chrome accordingly.”

Google Chrome will replace the lock icon with a “variant of the tune icon,” which users should start seeing with the scheduled Chrome release around September 2023. Chrome will still warn users if the page is not secure. If you want to play around with the new icon prior to the official release, just follow these steps:

  1. Enter chrome://flags in the address bar and hit ENTER.
  2. Search for ‘chrome-refresh-2023
  3. When the ‘Chrome Refresh 2023‘ flag is shown, click ‘Default‘ and select ‘Enabled.’
  4. Relaunch the browser when prompted to get the refreshed Chrome Desktop user interface

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Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology