Firefox, which currently enjoys about 25 percent of browser market share, after a “period of testing” in the next few months, will implement HTTPS encrypted search by default for all Google search users — a change that will help prevent potential “eavesdropping” of what people are searching for.
“We are currently testing the change to use SSL for built-in Google searches in our Firefox nightly channel,” Johnathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox Engineering, said. Adding, “If no issues are uncovered, it will move through our Aurora and Beta release channels before eventually shipping to all our Firefox users. This will include migrating the changes to our non-English version of Firefox, as well,” he said.
It will also further reduce the ability for publishers to know how people find their sites in Google — except for Google advertisers.
“This is a big deal for the 25% or so of Internet users who use Firefox to browse the Web, bringing major improvements in privacy and security,” a privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.
Soghoian credits Google with supporting Mozilla’s decision to implement HTTPS by default–Google has a search deal with Mozilla and will end up processing the more resource-intensive encrypted traffic–but questions why Google’s Chrome engineers have allowed themselves to be beaten to the punch.
“For the Chrome team, whose browser has otherwise set the gold standard for security (and who have proposed and implemented a mechanism to enable websites to limit referrer leakage), this must be extremely frustrating and probably quite embarrassing,” he wrote. “Hopefully, they will soon follow Mozilla’s lead by protecting their users with HTTPS search by default.”
Google did not respond.