Google is now offering SSL-enabled searching with the Google blog announcing it last Friday. SSL searching for Google is enabled by visiting the site with https:// in front of the usual www (note the ‘s’). Using SSL where possible allows you to communicate securely between your browser and the website, meaning that any ISPs, routers, governments, or other prying eyes between you and the server on your path along the Internet cannot just read the packets as they come over the wire.
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.
After reading How To Make Google HTTPS (Secured SSL) Search Default in Google Chrome over at My Technology Guide, I started wondering about how to do the same thing from within Firefox. I came up with a few different solutions.
First, a little bit more about Google SSL Search. You can access the secure search by visiting the site at https://www.google.com but there are 3 other ways in Firefox to tell that you’re on the secure search and they should all be there to ensure that you’re protected. The other browsers have similar indicators but may be in different locations.
Signs you’re searching with SSL-secured Google:
- The address begins with ‘https’ instead of ‘http’.
- Between the Favicon and the address bar, google.com is in blue (could be green if they change certificate types).
- Google SSL has a new logo. Notice it has a lock, ‘SSL’, and the familiar ‘beta’ tag.
- Firefox shows a lock, indicating that this connection is secure.
If you click on the blue spot in the address bar or the lock in the lower-right, you can view the certificate information. The connection is currently using RC4 128 bit encryption.
For more information about Google’s new SSL search, view their Help page.
There are two locations in Firefox where searches can initiate from. To make sure you’re protected, we’ll want to update both. The keyword search can happen in the address bar if something is mistyped or you just type your query directly into the “Awesome Bar”. The other location is the obvious search engine location.
To modify the Keyword Search, we’ll need to get into the nitty, gritty configuration of Firefox. Go up to the Address Bar and type in:
Click the ‘I’ll be careful, I promise’ button.
Type ‘search’ into the filter box to reduce the number of objects and then double-click keyword.URL to modify its value.
Modify the value from ‘http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=’ to ‘https://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=’. (Just adding the s to https).
Then hit OK and test it out by typing a query like ‘404 tech support rocks’ into the address bar. The Google results should show up in Google’s SSL search.
In order to modify the Search Box, I first came up with a bit of a hack that consisted of replacing ”http://www.google.com/search’ in the C:documents and settings[user name]appdataRoamingMozillaFirefoxProfiles[profile name]search.json file.
That worked and “replaced” the usual Google Search with a more secure one but, like I said, it was a bit of a hack. Instead, I’ve come up with a better way of doing it by making a legitimate Firefox Search Engine. You can
download it from the official Firefox Add-ons page here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/161977/
Just click the ‘Add to Firefox’ button and then confirm that you want to add it in the ‘Add Search Engine’ modal dialog box that pops up.
After that, you’ll be able to use ‘Secure Google Search’ and go directly to the https version of Google Search.
Happy secure searching!