Google switches on encrypted search
Google has launched a beta of its SSL encrypted search service.
The service encrypts the data sent between your PC and Google’s servers, making it practically impossible for third parties to intercept search terms or results.
The beta is the latest step in a transition towards encryption of key Google services. Earlier this year, the company turned on encryption by default in Gmail in a bid to improve the security of its webmail service.
Your experience with search over SSL might be slightly slower than your regular Google search experience
Google admits the encrypted search beta is limited. For starters, it’s only available from https://www.google.com – any attempt to add the crucial ‘s’ to the URL of www.google.co.uk results in a simple redirect to the unencrypted UK site.
The secure channel isn’t available across the full gamut of Google search services, either. “To help avoid misunderstanding, when you search using SSL, you won’t see links to offerings like Image Search and Maps that, for the most part, don’t support SSL at this time,” writes Google software engineer Evan Roseman on the Google blog.
“Also, since SSL connections require additional time to set up the encryption between your browser and the remote web server, your experience with search over SSL might be slightly slower than your regular Google search experience.”
And just to make sure customers know they’re using the secure site, Google has produced a special logo for the SSL version of its search engine, in addition to the regular browser hints, such as the padlock symbol used by most of the major browsers.