Firefox 14 has officially arrived. And while it doesn’t feature any fancy user interface changes, it does deliver one handy new offering: automatically encrypted Google searches. Other new features in Mozilla’s latest browser release include full screen support for Mac OS X Lion, plugin updates, and auto-complete of URLs typed into the Awesome Bar.
So, what does “encrypted search” actually mean? First, users will likely not notice a difference in their Google search experience as a result of the auto-encrypt feature. The only obvious indication that this security feature is working is that all Google search URLs will read “HTTPS” rather than the unencrypted “HTTP” signifier. More significant is what you don’t see.
“We automatically make your Google searches secure in Firefox to protect your data from potentially prying eyes, like network administrators when you use public or shared WiFi networks,” wrote Mozilla in a blog post.
The company explains further in a post on its developer blog that search encryption “shields our users from network infrastructure that may be gathering data about the users or modifying/censoring their search results.” Further, encrypted search prevents websites from knowing which terms you searched in Google that brought you to their site. In short, this feature puts “the user in better control of when and to whom their interests are shared.”
Unfortuantely for all you Bing users out there (What? They exists.), Mozilla says that “Google is currently the only search engine that allows Firefox to make your searches private, but we look forward to supporting additional search engines with this feature in the future.”
To download Firefox 14, click here. (If you already have Firefox, simply open or restart the program and it should update to the newest verision automatically.)
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