Google has released a novel statistic, that only 11% of users know what the padlock icon in Chrome’s URL bar means. The clickable icon that signifies a secure HTTPS connection, the padlock seems to have outlived its use, as now nearly all websites loaded on Chrome are done so using a secure HTTPS connection. This is a stark contrast from when the padlock was first implemented, and users had to be much more wary of their connection.
As a result, Google has announced that they are doing away with the icon, instead replacing it with a variation of a “tune” icon, which Google calls a “neutral indicator” to prevent misunderstandings and make the icon’s usage more intuitive, as it will still be clickable in order for the user to adjust some security and browser settings.
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“Browsers have shown a lock icon when a site loads over HTTPS since the early versions of Netscape in the 1990s. For the last decade, Chrome participated in a major initiative to increase HTTPS adoption on the web, and to help make the web secure by default. As late as 2013, only 14% of the Alexa Top 1M sites supported HTTPS. Today, however, HTTPS has become the norm and over 95% of page loads in Chrome on Windows are over a secure channel using HTTPS. This is great news for the ecosystem; it also creates an opportunity to re-evaluate how we signal security protections in the browser. In particular, the lock icon…Replacing the lock icon with a neutral indicator prevents the misunderstanding that the lock icon is associated with the trustworthiness of a page, and emphasizes that security should be the default state in Chrome.”