How to use Google docs (somewhat) securely

I’ve been keeping more and more information in Google Docs, and it turns out that there is a neat trick to using the service more securely.

As it turns out, Google docs honors https urls, even though it doesn’t force you to use them. I use Firefox for most of my day-to-day browsing, and by doing the following, it was easy for me to always use the https version of the urls.

1) View your browser history and remove all occurances of google docs.
2) Remove any bookmarks you may have that point to google docs.
3) Type “https://docs.google.com” into your URL bar to visit Google Docs securely.
4) Recreate any bookmarks you may have had to point to the https version of the URL.

Everyone uses browsers differently, but the way I get to Google Docs is to type cmd-L to get to the URL bar, and then type “doc” or something like that, at which point I use Firefox’s autocompletion to pick Google Docs. Now that the history has been purged of the non-https versions of the URLs, I always end up visiting the site through a secure protocol.

Why this matters

By going over https, all the data that moves back and forth between the browser and the Google server is encrypted. That means that the content of my documents, spreadsheets, etc., can’t be viewed by someone snooping on the wifi transmission, or anywhere else on the network.

Is this paranoid? Sure. Does this make Google Docs secure enough to store highly sensitive information? Probably not. But this trick only took five minutes to do, and now there is one less way for people to snoop on my sensitive information, so I consider that a win.

4 Responses to “How to use Google docs (somewhat) securely”

  1. Till Schneidereit

    Hey Sho,

    since you’re already using Firefox anyway, you might just as well use the CustomizeGoogle extension which lets you instruct the browser to always use secure connections for several google sites – as well as providing a bunch of other customization options that might be of interest.

  2. sho

    Awesome tip, Till. Thanks!

  3. sunny

    Very useful information . I was in a fix when google docs bug was identified.


  4. Scott

    If you use Gmail you can enable the “Always use https” option from Settings. If you do this and then navigate to Documents using the Google links at the top of the window (I have Calendar, Documents, Photos, Reader, Sites, Web, more) you automatically get put into Google Docs via HTTPs.

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