Mozilla has released Firefox 14.01, a new version of its browser which now includes encrypted Google search by default, as well as improvements to the address bar to make the identity of a site owner and the security of its connection clearer.
The biggest change in Firefox 14.01 is the addition of the default encrypted Google search. This ensures that users’ search queries will be sent over HTTPS by default, rather than requiring users to make the choice themselves. That can protect users against traffic-sniffing attacks on open networks.
“Enabling HTTPS for these searches shields our users from network infrastructure that may be gathering data about the users or modifying/censoring their search results. Additionally, using HTTPS helps providers like Google remove information from the referrer string. While Google users may expect Google to know what they are searching for, Firefox users may not be aware these search terms are often transmitted to sites they visit when they click on items in the search results; enabling HTTPS search helps sites like Google strip this information from the HTTP referrer string, putting the user better in control of when and to whom their interests are shared,” Mozilla’s Sid Stamm said in May when the feature was announced.
Mozilla also reworked the icons in the address bar in Firefox, making it clearer to users what the security level of each site is. Mozilla had removed the lock icon that indicates a site that’s using an HTTPS connection in previous versions of Firefox, but they added it back in for the newest version. The company also added a green indicator for sites that are using extended validation SSL certificates, which require a higher level of validation before they’re issued.