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Google Chrome will soon replace its iconic lock symbol with a new icon. The company looks to represent a website’s security level more accurately. The move could change how we understand website security.

The lock icon was first introduced to indicate that a website uses HTTPS encryption to secure connections. However, with over 99% of web pages now using HTTPS, Google argues that the lock symbol is no longer necessary. In fact, it can be misleading. The lock symbol has been misused by malicious websites that use HTTPS to appear trustworthy and lure victims into phishing attacks.

We can’t rely on the lock symbol alone

The new icon will be a variant of the tune icon commonly used for app settings. While the lock symbol will still be displayed in the ‘tune’ submenu when website connections are secure, it will no longer be the primary indicator of website security. The decision to replace the lock symbol was first announced in August 2021. It was part of Google’s plan to remove secure website indicators from the Chrome address bar. At the time, Google argued that HTTPS was now the norm rather than the exception. The company states that the lock symbol no longer served its original purpose.

Still in development

The lock symbol will also be replaced in Google Chrome for Android in September and removed from iOS entirely, as it cannot be clicked and only serves to provide additional information about the loaded website.

Despite this change, Google Chrome will continue to alert users of insecure plaintext HTTP connections on all platforms, ensuring that users are aware of potentially dangerous websites.

For those who want to test the new icon, it can be enabled in Chrome Canary by following these simple steps.

  • Go to chrome://flags in the address bar and ENTER
  • Search “chrome-refresh-2023”
  • When the Chrome Refresh 2023 flash comes up, click on ‘Default’ and then ‘Enable’
  • Relaunch the browser to see the refreshed interface

However, Google warns that the feature is still under active development and may contain bugs.

Also read: Google Chrome received a speed boost after a performance update