Microsoft is testing a feature for its web browser Edge that aims to give users a clearer understanding of the websites they visit.
In the latest early-access versions in Dev and Canary channels, Edge users have the option to activate a feature called site safety services.
In action, the feature draws information about websites from their Wikipedia entries, which can be viewed by mousing over the padlock icon in the URL bar (which denotes HTTPS protection).
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The pop-up panel provides a brief description of the site, information about its parent company, as well as links to any relevant social feeds.
Microsoft Edge update
Judging by the description in the settings page, the new Edge feature is supposed to give users an additional layer of security protection, beyond that afforded by HTTPS.
The hope is that the additional information will equip users to make their own judgement call about the trustworthiness of websites, some of which use HTTPS certification to give users a false sense of security.
However, there are a few question marks over the efficacy of such a feature. For example, to access the information, the user needs to have already landed on the website, by which time the damage may already have been done.
Further, given Wikipedia pages are renowned for poor levels of accuracy, there is also the potential that data drawn into the new panel could be incorrect. This could work one of two ways, either tarnishing the reputation of a legitimate website or implicitly endorsing a malicious domain.
The reliance on the user to take advantage of the feature is another potential weakness. The most effective security protections are those that act on the user’s behalf, but the new Edge feature runs counter to this principle.
The security services feature remains under development and may change over the course of testing, or Microsoft may choose to abandon it entirely.
TechRadar Pro has asked Microsoft for its take on the potential problem areas.
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