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Google's new HTTPS icon

Oct 19, 2023   |   2 minutes
Google's new HTTPS icon

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The lock icon first appeared in the 90s after Netscape introduced HTTPS. This protocol lets users securely send sensitive data (such as banking information and login credentials) over the web using encryption. As a result, better protections associated with HTTPS sites are gradually being adopted when browsing sites that use HTTPS show a lock icon to indicate that the network connection is secure compared to regular HTTP sites. Users have long relied on the lock icon to remind them that their connection is secure.

Google HTTPS lock icon and it's significance

The lock icon has been widely recognized as a secure connection symbol for many years. It has an obvious security meaning but does not represent absolute security.

Secure connection

The lock icon indicates that the website you're visiting uses HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This protocol ensures that the data exchanged between your browser and the website is encrypted, making it difficult for unauthorized parties to intercept or tamper with the information.

Data privacy

The lock icon assures that any data you enter on the website, such as login credentials, credit card information, or personal details, is transmitted securely and cannot be easily accessed by hackers or eavesdroppers.

Authenticity

The lock icon also suggests that the website has been verified by a trusted third-party Certificate Authority (CA). This verification process confirms the authenticity of the website's identity and establishes trust between the website and the user.

The new tune icon is being replaced

In a 2021 Google study, nearly 90% of participants did not understand the intended use of an icon. Over 95% of page loads in Chrome for Windows use HTTPS, making it the default connection. Users may mistakenly think of the lock symbol as a sign of trust or reliability. But since HTTPS doesn't protect against phishing scams and malware sites, user misinterpreting icons would be a potentially dangerous idea. Showing a lock icon does not mean the place is safe. It just means that the connection is made via a secure protocol.

Many malicious web links now also display a lock icon, and this potentially harmful thought by users allows for phishing and malicious website exploitation. Chrome recently announced the design of a new tune security icon to remind people of a clearer security awareness.

The redesigned icons will debut in Chrome 117, scheduled for release in September 2023. Chrome's planned changes apply to both desktop and Android versions of Chrome. And the icon will be removed entirely, as it cannot be clicked in the Chrome iOS version. With the new tune icon replaced, Chrome will continue to alert users when the connection is insecure. The lock is about to become a relic from another era.