Learn different ways how you can encrypt your Internet connection effectively.
What Is Encryption
Encryption is a process during which your data gets encoded so that it can only be read by certain individuals or entities.
It uses complex mathematical algorithms to scramble your data, making it impossible for unauthorized parties to get their hands on the information you transmit over the web.
Therefore, only recipients eligible to access and use secret alphanumeric keys that encryption randomly generates can see the information you send.
Anyone without those encryption keys will see nothing but some kind of incoherent mumbo-jumbo made up of strange letters and numbers.
Why It Is Recommended That You Encrypt Your Internet Traffic
Given the major crisis in online privacy and security we are all dealing with now, there are plenty of reasons why you should encrypt your Internet connection.
Some of the main ones are the following:
- Internet traffic encryption is essential if you want to prevent your Internet Service Provider (ISP), marketers, or government authorities from intruding on your privacy. Otherwise, your unciphered data can easily be monitored.
- An Internet Service Provider may inspect unencrypted packets you send through the web (deep packet inspection) to track your online activities. If you use up too much bandwidth while streaming or playing games, your ISP can limit your speed.
- Even if you haven’t done anything illegal, someone can still monitor what you’re doing on the web. By encrypting your online traffic you can protect yourself from prying eyes.
- Encrypting your Internet connection can help you stay safe on a public Wi-Fi network, deter hackers and avoid having your sensitive information stolen.
How To Encrypt Your Internet Connection
Use WPA2/WPA3 WiFi encryption
The first step to make sure your WiFi access is secure is to check whether your router always uses the latest WPA2/WPA3 (WiFi Protected Access) encryption.
While your router still may use other encryption protocols such as WEP and WPA, they are outdated and way less secure in terms of protection against hacker attacks.
To be able to see what type of a protocol your router is currently using and if necessary change it, you will have to access your router control panel.
Generally, you can do this by typing in your IP address into your browser bar; however, some router models may use a different procedure.
Also, it is important to protect your router with a strong custom password comprised of at least 12 lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.
By default, your router credentials are set to “admin” and “password”, making your WiFi security very vulnerable as everybody knows default router settings.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, is an Internet protocol developed for secure data transfer between web browsers and websites.
It utilizes a TLS/SSL encryption certificate to allow secure online communication and data transfer between your web browser and a server of the website you visit.
However, not all websites protect their users from being snooped on by using an HTTPS protocol.
Some websites use the old version of HTTPS — the HTTP protocol that doesn’t provide any protection and puts your sensitive information at risk.
All the sensitive information that you enter on an HTTP website, for example, account credentials or credit card numbers can be easily monitored and intercepted as opposed to an HTTPS website that makes all entered information thoroughly masked.
The only thing that spies can see on an HTTPS website is the pages you visited, nothing more.
That’s why we recommend that you should use only HTTPS-protected websites.
Use end-to-end encryption messaging apps
Some messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Viber offer end-to-end encryption (E2EE).
This means all these apps encrypt your messages all the way from the sender to the receiver, making it impossible for third parties to intercept the content of transmitted messages.
Both the sender and receiver shall have public and private keys to view encrypted messages and their attachments.
It’s also important to mention that not all messaging apps offer E2EE and some of those that offer don’t have it enabled by default, so you might need to configure the latter properly.
Use encrypted email services
Along with using E2EE apps, you may opt to use encrypted email services.
There are lots of encrypted email services such as ProtonMail and Tutanota offering you different types of protection from heavily encrypted emails to temporary email addresses to “burner” emails that delete themselves in a short period after being read.
Given the natural vulnerability of emails to interception, using encrypted email services is highly recommended.
Use encrypted DNS
In case you don’t know what DNS is, here is a quick explanation.
DNS stands for Domain Name System.
It’s a system of addresses that acts like a phone book of the Internet, matching website domain names with their corresponding numeric addresses or IP addresses.
Each time when you enter the URL in your address bar, your web browser queries a DNS server.
The DNS server, in turn, translates that particular URL into an IP address and sends your to the appropriate website.
The problem is DNS servers are usually run by your ISP, which means it can intercept your DNS queries and check what you were doing online.
To prevent your ISP from tracking your online activities, you can use encrypted DNS to make your queries private.
While encrypted DNS is rather a new thing at the moment, the Firefox browser already uses it by default.
Google is also planning to feature it in its Chrome browser in the nearest future.
Use Tor browser
Tor is an acronym for “The Onion Router.”
Putting it simply, Tor represents a global network of decentralized, anonymous servers that can be accessed via the Tor browser.
All the servers in the network are run by independent volunteers, and each volunteer gets only a piece of ciphered information you send.
When you start a new browser session, Tor randomly picks three anonymous servers (also called nodes), encrypts all your HTTP traffic and reroutes it through those servers, giving you the ability to browse the web anonymously.
However, browsing the web using Tor may be somewhat tedious as the network it’s based on is very slow.
Also, the data that you send through the Tor’s nodes can be potentially intercepted at the exit node when it gets decrypted.
You can find out more information about Tor in this article.
Use browser extensions
The web is full of browser security extensions that can add up an extra layer of protection to your Internet connection.
Some of them will upgrade your HTTP connection to HTTPS, others will send your traffic through a proxy or protect you from ads or tracking.
Use security browser extension when necessary, but don’t forget to download them from reliable sources as some extensions may be listed on fake, infected websites.
Use a VPN
Undoubtedly, the best way to encrypt your Internet connection is to use a virtual private network, or VPN.
A virtual private network hides your IP and sends your online traffic through secure remote VPN servers, preventing anyone from viewing your online activities or intercepting your delicate data.
It shields you from hackers, snoopers, intrusive advertisers or anyone else who wants to capitalize on your confidential information so that you can browse the web safely and anonymously.
However, you have to keep in mind that there are lots of VPN providers all different when it comes to the quality of services they offer.
We recommend that you choose a reliable VPN provider and avoid free VPN providers as they are usually do not have a strict no-log policy and do not use the latest AES-256 encryption as, for example, SwitchVPN does.
To learn more about what a VPN is and how it works you can visit this page.