Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Google Adds SSL Encrypted Search...

Online privacy and security advocates have been quite busy lately going after Facebook, but Google is trying to throw them a bone and pre-empt any future and inevitable complaints about the search giant.

As the Official Google Blog reports, the company is now offering a service where users can search the internet using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. Basically, this common form of security (you recognize it by sites that begin with https://) encrypts the information sent between your computer and their service. All communications, like your search terms and search results pages, are protected from the prying eyes of third parties on your network.

The new encrypted site,, isn't foolproof, however, and, to Google's credit, they make that very clear...

Today’s release comes with a “beta” label for a few reasons. First, it currently covers only the core Google web search product. 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. 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. What won’t change is that you will still get the same great search results.

A few notes to remember: Google will still maintain search data to improve your search quality and to provide better service. Searching over SSL doesn’t reduce the data sent to Google — it only hides that data from third parties who seek it. And clicking on any of the web results, including Google universal search results for unsupported services like Google Images, could take you out of SSL mode.

This is clearly a step in the right direction, but for those who are truly concerned about online privacy, the caveat about how Google will still maintain all of your search data only adds fuel to the fire that much more needs to be done. It's a great question for the Digital Age... Who do you fear more - the rogue hacker or the giant corporations who know everything about you?