Google SSL Web Search is a free extension that lets you change Chrome's default search engine to Google SSL, or encrypted.google.com. Google SSL is a beta release that promises end-to-end Secure Socket Layer encryption between your PC and Google. Encrypted searching keeps your searches private and keeps third parties from observing your searches or corrupting the results. It doesn't guarantee private or anonymous browsing; it merely secures your data transactions with Google, much like your bank's Web site. Google SSL currently supports only Google Web Search, so other tools like Google Images and Google Maps don't work with it yet, but it does search for videos, news, shopping, and other results you'd find in the regular version of Google.
Google SSL Web Search installs like any other Chrome extension, but you need to make it your default search engine to use it. We right-clicked the Chrome address bar (i.e. Omnibar) and selected Edit Search Engines. We selected Google SSL under Default search options, closed the page, and returned to our open tab. We entered some searches and were generally pleased with the results, though the absence of maps and images definitely detracts from their usefulness. However, Google SSL performed as well as the standard Google search engine in every other way, with the added advantage of a secure connection.
There's no doubt that secure searching will be the standard in the near future, since there's also no doubt that individuals' online privacy and security will face increasingly serious and sophisticated attacks. In any case, we recommend giving Google SSL Web Search's beta issue a try for a taste of things to come.