Benefits of Google Encrypted Search

Google's new SSL-encrypted search guards search data crossing the Web, and locally.

Google launched a new beta service this week--encrypted search using SSL (secure sockets layer) to protect searches from being snooped or intercepted while traversing the Internet. Encrypted Google search is still not entirely private, but it has benefits for individuals and businesses to ensure sensitive information is not exposed to prying eyes.

The new encrypted Google search is easy enough to use. Simply type "https" at the beginning of the URL rather than "http". Doing so sets up an encrypted pipe between your Web browser and Google so that any search traffic is kept private between you and Google.

It is not completely private because obviously Google still has a record of what you searched for. Google has established its reputation based on the "Do No Evil" mantra, and most businesses and users implicitly trust that Google won't do anything insidious with its omniscient cataloging of every bit and byte that crosses the Web. But, Google has faced privacy challenges again and again, including the recent revelation that it has "accidentally" captured and archived intercepted wireless data with its Google Street View cars for years.

Assuming Google can be trusted not to abuse the data it has access to, and that it can be relied on to guard the data it stores from compromise by unauthorized users, that becomes a non-issue and IT administrators can focus on the benefits of the new encrypted Google search.

The most obvious benefit is that searches can't be intercepted. But, for businesses there is another feature of the encrypted Google search which has an even more relevant and directly applicable benefit. Searches conducted via Google encrypted search are not archived in history and won't appear in the autofill during a subsequent search.

While there may be some risk of a network sniffer or other unauthorized interception of search traffic as it crosses from your Web browser to Google and back, there is a much larger risk of intentional or inadvertent exposure of search terms or results from the history and cache data stored locally on the computer.

Searches may yield hints regarding ongoing research and development, confidential intellectual property, upcoming product or service announcements, or other sensitive information that is not intended for unauthorized consumption. Google encrypted search does not store that information, so there is no risk of someone stumbling onto it later.

The Internet Explorer 8 Web browser has an InPrivate Browsing mode which behaves similarly on the local computer. InPrivate Browsing protects the entire browsing session by not saving Web history, cookies, temporary Internet files, or other data. However, it doesn't protect the data as it is crossing the Internet.

The beta of Google's encrypted search only works with the core search functionality--not Images, or Videos, or Maps, etc. It also doesn't keep the browser history clear of URL's that are entered directly (as opposed to via a Google search). Perhaps an even more secure solution is to use the encrypted Google search from within an InPrivate Browsing session on Internet Explorer 8.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com . He also tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW .

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GoogleencryptionSSL

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?