Google has added full SSL encryption to its search services to allow users to have a secure https connection when searching google.com.
The page is accessed by specifically entering https://www.google.com/ in the address bar.
Google's software engineer Evan Roseman claimed that by adding SSL encryption to products including Gmail and Google Docs, the session-wide encryption was ‘a significant privacy advantage over systems that only encrypt login pages and credit card information'.
Roseman said: “When you search on https://www.google.com, an encrypted connection is created between your browser and Google. This secured channel helps protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party on your network.
“The service includes a modified logo to help indicate that you're searching using SSL and that you may encounter a somewhat different Google search experience.”
Google also clarified that the release is in beta to cover only the core Google web search product, and not on Image Search and Maps. Since SSL connections require additional time to set up the encryption between the browser and the remote web server, a user experience with search over SSL may be slightly slower than a regular Google search experience.
It also claimed that it 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,” said Roseman.
Microsoft is also to improve the security of its Hotmail email application with full-session SSL encryption for the whole session within the next few months. It will also add features including the ability to get a new password via SMS, protected login from a public computer and a new feature called ‘trusted senders' that will help prevent users from falling for phishing and malware attacks with a safety logo appearing next to legitimate messages from trusted senders.