SSL secured access for public websites are growing. This has been mainly restricted to banking and finance due to the extra CPU computation required. With the rise of more computer power and determined hackers, more and more websites are now offering SSL secured access for casual use.
The downside is that you have to type it out yourself eg httpS: or use a bookmark.
A Firefox extension called HTTPS Everywhere is now available. You checked the websites that you want SSL encryption and you are ready to go. Or you can use the defaults, select all for websites eg. Facebook, Google Search, Wikipedia, NYTimes etc.
Note SSL is not a magic bullet to solve all web related security. It is designed to secure web traffic between the server and the user computer. It also prevents hackers from using the back button to resume a logged off session. It does not prevent keyboard sniffers or trojans from sniffing your passwords.