Microsoft's Bing to encrypt all search engine traffic

News by Tom Reeve

Microsoft has announced that Bing will start encrypting all search engine traffic by default this summer, following in the footsteps of other leading search engines.

Currently, encryption is a user option which has been available for the past year and a half.

Google began encrypting its search traffic in 2011 in a bid to provide users with greater protection for their privacy. Yahoo announced in 2013 that it would begin encrypting all of the traffic between its servers and mail systems in response to user concerns about government intrusion. However, its search traffic has been provided by Bing since Yahoo and Microsoft signed a deal in 2009.

Search engine encryption encodes your search results in transit between the server and your browser, particularly important if you are using a public Wi-Fi network.

In addition to encrypting the results, Microsoft says Bing will no longer provide query terms with every website referral. Webmasters will be able to tell the traffic came from Bing but not the terms used to find the site.

That information will be aggregated and anonymised and made accessible to website owners via Bing Webmaster Tools.

Bing is nowhere near as big as Google but it continues to grow slowly. In April it hit 20 percent market share in the US, according to Search Engine Land, and with its alliance with Yahoo, its effective reach is nearly 33 percent. 

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