On May 21, 2010, Google announced the release of their new SSL Search service. This new search service behaves almost exactly like Google Search – the main difference being that it uses SSL for security. Wondering what SSL is? In the words of Google:
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that helps provide secure Internet communications for services like web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other data transfers. When you search over SSL, your search queries and search traffic are encrypted so they can’t be read by any intermediary party such as employers and internet service providers (ISPs).
Source: Google SSL Search Help
So, put simply, the announcement was great news for privacy and security enthusiasts everywhere. As one of these enthusiasts, I immediately switched to Google’s SSL search for all my web search needs. Sure, there were some drawbacks to switching – namely, a loss in performance – but in my mind, I rather wait a little longer, knowing I have increased security. So, as a first step, I switched my homepage in Google Chrome. This was pretty straight forward, I simply had to press the Wrench icon, and then select Options.
The next step was to change the search provider – in Google Chrome, this is crucial – since it relies so heavily on one smart search/address bar. When I went to do that, I instinctively selected the existing search engine I was using: Google Canada, and attempted to edit it. Unfortunately, the URL field was grayed out, preventing me from making changes to the URL pattern.
I then figured out that some of these providers are built-in, and can’t be edited. You have to manually add a new search engine, which allows you to define all fields. Here’s what I entered for each field:
- Name: Google HTTPS
- Keyword: g
- URL: https://encrypted.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%s
Once I selected the new engine as my as the default, I was ready to go. Google’s SSL search was my homepage, and my default search engine. Yet, I still had some flexibility: I chose keywords that would allow me to easily switch between engines. For example, by typing:
gc wikipedia ducks
Chrome understands that I want to search using Google Canada:
This allowed me to have a secure search engine by default, all the while making it easy for me to use others on-the-fly.