Today, most modern software and applications have dedicated encryption to ensure security and privacy.
There are several ways how to encrypt your internet traffic (not connection) and protect yourself online. We’ll discuss them all below! But first, let’s get the tech semantics out of the way.
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Why you cannot encrypt your internet connection but can encrypt your traffic
To put it bluntly, you can’t encrypt your internet connection because the internet itself is connectionless.
The internet is a packet network where the internet providers handle all data travel. And since there’s no connection, you cannot encrypt it!
However, your internet traffic is different because you establish connections with sites and services through your internet service provider (ISP). For this reason, your internet traffic can (and should) be encrypted.
What is encryption?
In layman’s terms, encryption is a process of encoding your data. It is an effective way to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your internet traffic.
When you encrypt a data packet and send it to someone, you ensure that only you and the recipient can read its contents.
Sounds intriguing? If you want to encrypt your internet traffic, check out the following encryption solutions.
Why should you encrypt your internet traffic?
At times like these, where information is currency, you’d best be off with protecting your data by encrypting your web traffic. And many entities and people are interested in getting their hands on that cash flow. I mean your personal info:
- Websites. Some of them track your every move and build a profile. That information can later be sold to third parties or, even worse, used against you to influence your decision-making;
- Hackers. Suppose you’ve unknowingly fallen victim to an evil twin attack or let a cybercriminal into your personal network. In that case, that bad actor can see all your details – banking, social, and other vital credentials are up for grabs.
- Your ISP. They know what you’re up to – without online traffic encryption, your data is a click away from an ISP inspection. Because all of the information travels through them, encryption would at least make it unreadable. Moreover, they can limit your internet bandwidth, and VPN encryption negates that.
- The government IS watching. Even though the EU-enforced law of general data protection regulation (GDPR) states in one of their recitals that everyone has the right to personal data protection, there are more than enough governments spying on their citizens.
Simply put, all the whys boil down to the basic human right to privacy.
5 ways how to encrypt web traffic
Now that we’re done with the whys, let’s get down to the hows of internet browsing encryption.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Bypasses censorship and restrictions;
- Encrypts your apps and websites’ internet traffic;
- Offers safety and increased privacy.
- Can slow your connection down.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is arguably the easiest and most holistic solution to encrypt your internet traffic. It’s the best and most popular privacy tool across the globe. At its core, a VPN hides your real IP (Internet Protocol) address and masks your web traffic.
First, you connect your VPN client to a VPN server. This creates an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic. Anyone who tries to track down the communication will just see scrambled encrypted data.
But a good VPN has more use cases than just protection. In addition to encryption, Surfshark VPN allows you to block malware and ads, hide your original location, unblock content and ensure public Wi-Fi safety.
HTTPS on browsers
- Encrypts your website traffic;
- Already comes on most sites;
- HTTP sites will not be supported by Google.
- Doesn’t encrypt the rest of your internet traffic
Another way to encrypt your internet traffic is to use an HTTPS connection on browsers like Tor, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari.
HTTPS – Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The Secure part of the abbreviation refers to a security protocol – either Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS). Both are used to ensure a safe connection between the browser and the server it’s connecting to.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) allows your device to communicate with websites.
But HTTP is outdated and unsecure. Its successor, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), offers encryption for your connection to the website.
In general, I’d advise you to never access HTTP websites. To avoid that, you can do two things:
- Use a browser extension that automatically turns HTTP links into HTTPS pages. It doesn’t always work, but it’s secure!
- Use the Mozilla Firefox browser with an HTTPS-only mode. You can find it under Mozilla’s privacy settings.
Pssst, I’ll let you in on a little secret on how to check if a website is encrypted – check its certificates
When you’re visiting websites, make sure you check whether they’re certified. You can do that with a quick click on the lock icon next to the site’s URL.
You should see a drop-down box when you click it. The way it’ll look depends on the browser you use.
If the site is certified, then it will be encrypted!
Use SSL proxies
An SSL proxy encrypts and decrypts the data between the user and the server they’re connecting to.
- Improves your privacy;
- Encrypts your traffic.
- Is a worse version of a VPN;
- If free, it doesn’t provide good server coverage.
Practically, most proxies are HTTP proxies, and they’re not secure. When talking about a VPN vs. proxy scenario, the latter performs a similar function as a VPN but doesn’t come with strong security.
If you want to encrypt your traffic, make sure to use an SSL proxy. It comes with an added layer of security that reduces the available information about your internet connection to any potential snoops.
Use DNS over HTTPS and DNS over TLS
- Encrypts your DNS requests;
- Doesn’t encrypt the rest of your internet traffic.
DNS (Domain Name System) allows you to use the internet as you know it today. This system translates domain names from human language (Surfshark.com) to numerical IP addresses (184.108.40.206). Machines use this system as a language to communicate with one another.
Technically, you send DNS queries (requests) whenever you access a website. These requests are not encrypted like the rest of the website’s traffic. They create new risk windows like ISPs (Internet Service Providers) spying and MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks.
You can set up your DNS requests to run over HTTPS or TLS. This feature can be enabled on most browsers. Check their security and privacy settings – it’s usually there!
Turn on Wi-Fi encryption
- Encrypts your internet traffic.
- Is a lot easier to crack than a VPN;
- Doesn’t improve your privacy;
- Slows router performance.
Last but not least, you should make sure your Wi-Fi router has encryption on. Every Wi-Fi should have in-built encryption that can be turned on / off. When it’s on, the data going through is encrypted, and only the users with your network password can access it.
In comparison, this is easier and simpler than other encryption solutions.
You simply need to make sure that your Wi-Fi router uses WPA2 or WPA3 for encryption. You can find it in your router’s settings.
However, it’s difficult to check whether a public Wi-Fi hotspot is encrypted or not. So if you plan to use an internet connection on an unsecured public Wi-Fi router, you better use a VPN.
Encryption doesn’t protect you from malware or careless browsing
What encryption protects you from
What encryption doesn’t protect you from
Ad brokers (if using a VPN)
Accessing malicious websites
ISP surveillance (if using a VPN)
Opening malware-ridden attachments and files
Being careless with your credentials
It is true – encryption doesn’t make you invincible to online threats. For example, let’s take a look at a MITM (man-in-the-middle) cyberattack.
In a MITM attack, the cybercriminal relays and changes the communication between multiple parties. Because these parties think they’re communicating directly, the attacker can convey, alter, and listen to the information flow between them.
The worst thing is that this hijacked communication line can be encrypted.
At the same time, even the most secure encryption solution might not help you. You can still catch malware and viruses or get phished. Clicking on malicious links, opening suspicious attachments or files in your emails, and ignoring browser warnings have nothing to do with encryption.
So, be careful what you click! Encryption won’t save you from poor browsing habits.
Does Tor encrypt your internet traffic?
Tor browser is a useful tool for keeping your privacy. But users often forget the fact that Tor does not encrypt their entire internet traffic. Instead, Tor encrypts the traffic just within the browser’s network.
It is the exit node that decrypts your data. Once it leaves the exit node, your traffic is clear-text data. So, if a government agency or cybercriminal decides to check the node, they will be able to monitor your internet traffic.
But if you still want to secure your internet traffic via Tor, use a VPN over Tor. However, it will significantly slow down your internet speed.
There’s more to digital security than encryption
If you want to encrypt your internet data traffic, there are more than enough tools, applications, and online guides you can use. Even if you’re new to the realm of encryption tools and software, take comfort in the fact that it is not rocket science.
As the world moves to the online terrain, opting for a reliable and robust encryption solution to secure your internet traffic makes sense. Besides, data is the new currency, and it is your responsibility to make it safe from thieves, spies, and profiteers.
Remember that encryption works, but it doesn’t leave you invulnerable. So, keep an eye on privacy and security issues and opt for a reliable, all-in-one solution. And speaking of one, try Surfshark and enjoy its wide range of features that enhance your digital well-being.
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How do I make my internet connection encrypted?
- Use a VPN;
- Only use the HTTPS when browsing;
- Use proxies;
- Use smart DNS;
- Turn on your Wi-Fi encryption, make sure it’s up to date, and never turn it off.
Should my internet be encrypted?
Yes, preferably always. Encrypting your internet traffic keeps your browsing private and keeps you safe from possible onlookers, hacker attacks, and government intrusion.
Why should you encrypt your network?
Encrypting your data makes it readable only to you and the person your sending the info to. So you should encrypt the network you’re using to keep your data safe from prying eyes. Eyes that may belong to a hacker, the government, or even your internet service provider.