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Google Moves its Encrypted Search


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If you're paranoid about snoops discovering your Web search terms and results, you'll have to start pointing your browser to another URL to use Google encrypted search. The search giant announced in a blog post on June 25 that its encrypted search service moved from https://google.com to https://encrypted.google.com.

The encrypted search, which gives a user the option to use SSL to prevent packet sniffing, was moved to accommodate "better serve our school partners and their users," Dave Girouard, president of Google Enterprise says in the blog post.

Previously, school administrators -- or anyone else, for that matter -- who wanted to block encrypted searches at https://google.com would also block Google authenticated services such as Google Apps for Education.

Why would schools want to block encrypted searches? Using the service "creates an obscured channel between a user's computer and Google," which allows students to bypass a school's content filter, Girouard said.

That makes it harder to block adult content, a policy of many schools.

Google's change should make it easier for school IT staff to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires schools to implement measures to address minors accessing "inappropriate matter," among other things.

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Google's encrypted search engine, launched in May, has moved to a new Web address that isn't as convenient as its original one but that gives organizations the option to block the site for their users without locking them out of other Google services.

Originally offered at google.com, the encrypted search engine has been relocated to encrypted.google.com, a move prompted primarily by the requirement of schools and universities to block encrypted search engines for their students.

Educational institutions often ban encrypted search engines because students can use them to bypass the Web content filters of their schools and universities.

However, blocking google.com also interferes with other encrypted Google products, like the hosted Apps communication and collaboration suite, which many educational institutions offer for their staff and students.

By moving the encrypted Web search engine to its new address, it's now possible to block access to it without affecting other Google services, Google said on Friday.

"We are continuing to explore longer-term options such that we could return encrypted search to https://www.google.com without introducing issues with school content filters," wrote Google Enterprise President Dave Girouard in an official blog post.

Google introduced the option to encrypt Web search sessions with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology for people who want to make sure network snoops don't sniff the data they exchange with Google servers, such as queries entered and results received.

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