Microsoft has announced that it will start using the HTTPS protocol by default to encrypt all search traffic coming from Bing.
Though Bing has given users an encryption option for more than a year, it was an opt-in feature requiring a user to tweak their settings — but from this summer, it will be switched on automatically.
In terms of day-to-day browsing, you won’t notice too much difference — an extra “S” at the end of “HTTP” in the URL will be the most obvious sign that it’s on. For website owners, they will still be able to see whether a visitor has arrived via Bing, but data won’t include the search terms they used.
HTTPS adds an extra layer of security atop the standard HTTP protocol, and it has traditionally been used by companies such as banks to bring additional security to online customers. However, many tech firms have adopted HTTPS in recent times, including the Wikimedia Foundation, which revealed just a few days ago that Wikipedia would use HTTPS by default; Twitter has had it switched on by default since 2012 and Facebook since 2013.
Google Search has offered HTTPS by default for almost four years too, so today’s news from Microsoft has been a long time coming.