Google SSL Beta Offers More Secure Search Queries

Search has become one of the mainstream uses of the Web. Better search result accuracy and diverse choices through blended search are among the reasons why more people use search engines (15.4 billion search queries as of March 2010 in the U.S.) to find information.

internet-security

This trend is coupled with the proliferation of WiFi network that offer even more convenience to mobile search engine users. But the problem with Wi Fi networks is that it opens up risks for security breach. Just look at what role WiFi played in the unplanned gathering of unnecessary information by Google’s street car while mapping many cities in the globe. And it’s not just Google that’s capable of snooping on our website traffic and stealing sensitive information. While we could assume that an unsuspecting search query at Google is not a concern, think again.

For this reason, Google is offering an SSL-powered alternative to our search experience. Using the secured HTTP protocol (HTTPS), we can now start using this feature. Note the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and the lock symbol near Google logo.

google-ssl-beta

To ensure we’re using this feature, just check the beginning of the URL; it should show “https” and the SSL and lock symbols are visible.

There are important notes to consider:

1. Even if we’re using this feature, Google will still store our query history because the added security feature is only intended to keep away third parties and not Google. Of course we can remove search history if we wish to.

2. This feature is currently unavailable to non-web queries such as Image Search, Blog Search or Map Search and is limited only to Google’s core search service.

3. Using the HTTPS secured web search feature may be slower than the HTTP version because SSL connections require extra steps such as setting up encryption between web browser and the remote web server.