Google is rolling out the use of Secure Sockets Layer encryption technology for its search engine.
Right now, the SSL-protected search is being beta tested, and does not extend the extra security beyond the core search engine to features like image search and Google Maps. According to Google, using SSL secures the transmission of search queries by users as well as the results returned by Google servers.
"When you search on https://www.google.com, an encrypted connection is created between your browser and Google," blogged Google Software Engineer Evan Roseman. "This secured channel helps protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party on your network."
Roseman continued, "Also, since SSL connections require additional time to set up the encryption between your browser and the remote Web server, your experience with search over SSL might be slightly slower than your regular Google search experience. What won't change is that you will still get the same great search results. ... Searching over SSL doesn't reduce the data sent to Google -- it only hides that data from third parties who seek it."