From cybersecurity threats to unauthorized data collection, knowing how to encrypt internet connection is the first step to online privacy and security.
Even if you don’t have a pressing need to encrypt your web traffic, it’s always a good idea to keep your internet traffic encrypted at all times.
In this article, I’ll guide you on how to encrypt your internet connection. Let’s get started!
A Quick Way to Encrypt All Your Internet Traffic at Once – Use a VPN
There are many ways to encrypt your internet traffic. My preferred method is to use a reliable Virtual Private Network service like NordVPN and Surfshark. It’s your easiest option to make your internet connection encrypted.
Establishing a connection through a VPN server allows hiding your online traffic from an internet service provider and other third-parties.
The mentioned virtual private network services all require a monthly subscription. However, you can find free-to-use VPN apps.
Even so, it’s best to avoid free VPN solutions as they aren’t safe. In most cases, you’re actually paying the VPN with your data, which is then sold to advertisers. They have to make money somehow, after all.
VPNs also protect you from a variety of online threats. This includes malware, phishing, and SQL injections. On top of that, often, VPNs allow users to escape data-throttling. You can also access region-blocked services with a VPN.
The Benefits of Encrypting Your Internet Connection
Most internet users don’t feel the need to encrypt their internet connection. Recent reports state that only about 30% of internet users worldwide rely on VPN services.
Luckily, the percentage of encrypted web traffic has steadily increased over the years. It went from 50% in 2014 to between 80% and 95% in 2021. This is all thanks to most websites defaulting to encrypted HTTPS connections.
The fact that it’s legal for ISPs to sell their customers’ browsing habits to advertisers is certainly not helping things.
Here are the benefits of encrypting your internet connection:
- Protects you from being spied on
- Prevents ISPs, marketers, and third party officials from intruding on your privacy
- Deters cybersecurity threats from accessing, stealing, or selling your sensitive information
- It helps you stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks
- Allows you to securely transfer data from one person to the other
There are many things that you want to keep private:
- social media account data
- credit card details
- banking information
- browsing history
- messaging history
Better safe than sorry, right?
How to Encrypt Internet Connections – 6 Options
There are multiple ways to encrypt your internet connection. And I strongly recommend applying them all at once. Some encryption tools are free to use, while others cost just a couple of dollars.
Let’s take a look at how to encrypt your data in six easy steps:
Step 1: Utilize Your Wi Fi Network Internal Encryption
If you’re reading this article, I’m sure you already have basic security measures in place. Like adding a password to your Wi-Fi network, for example.
But there’s something else many people forget to change—the default administrator password.
The easiest way to access your connection is by changing the Wi-Fi router settings. You can enable your window’s built-in administrator account, but it’s best not to do so.
Instead, change your router’s default administrator password according to its make and model. If you’re not sure how to change it, you can visit your network provider’s website for instructions. You can also contact the call center for a guided step-by-step process.
Once you’ve changed the administrator password, turn on your Wi-Fi network’s encryption. You can do so by logging into your router’s settings. Then, enable the WPA or WPA 2/WPA2-PSK option.
While you’re on the router maker’s website, double-check if there are updates available for you. This way, you can rest assured that your internet connection is at its latest version.
Keep in mind that this step doesn’t prevent you from being monitored by your ISP.
Step 2: Download a Browser That Encrypts Your Traffic
Suppose you’re not willing to use a VPN. Or you simply want to search for another method to encrypt your internet connection. In that case, your next best option is to download a secure web browser. I recommend Tor browser, Freenet, and Invisible Internet Project (I2P for short).
These browsers are solely developed to anonymize the data transmitted on them. Tor, for instance, bundles your data into fully encrypted packets as you enter the server.
Unlike other browsers, Tor browser forms a series of volunteer-operated relay connections. As a result, Tor’s communicator protocol is similar to an onion. It’s stacked upon layers of encryption. This is why Tor refers to itself as “The Onion Router.”
Apart from encrypting your data, Tor also masks its user’s actual location. It does this by bouncing it around the Tor network’s relay.
The only reason why most people don’t use encrypted browsers is the fact that they’re slow—considerably slower than standard browsers. In fact, they’re so slow that web streaming is near impossible.
If you do decide to use any of the browsers mentioned above, keep one thing in mind. These browsers only anonymize user activity within the browser. Other internet-related activities remain unprotected, which is why I still prefer using VPNs.
Step 3: Use HTTPS Everywhere
An HTTPS connection is used to secure computer network communication. In other words, it protects all the data that you send and receive while using that website.
According to the Google Transparency Report, the prevalence of HTTPS websites is increasing. It went from 50% in 2014 to 95% in 2021. As long as you’re using a website with an HTTPS connection, no one can access your connection to this specific website. This includes reading or seeing what you send or receive.
While encrypted HTTPS connection is available on most websites, some sites don’t provide it by default. Normally, Google stops users from accessing these websites through a warning. This warning tells them that that particular website has an unsecured connection.
But that’s just what it is—a warning. Users can still access these websites if they so desire.
Downloading HTTPS Everywhere is one of the best ways to access unsecured websites. This is because it automatically requests HTTPS encryption from sites that offer it.
Step 4: Turn On End-to-End Encryption On All Your Messaging Apps
Nothing is more intrusive than someone reading the private messages you send to another person. Due to this, popular messaging apps utilize end-to-end encryption (E2EE) systems. Examples of these apps include WhatsApp, Signal, and iMessage (for iOS, macOS, and watchOS).
E2EE allows these apps to encrypt all the messages you send and receive, which therefore makes it impossible for third parties to access your content.
With that said, not all messaging apps provide E2EE. In some cases, you’ll have to manually turn it on yourself. As such, always make sure that the messaging app you’re using has an E2EE function.
For instance, Facebook doesn’t have E2EE by default. This includes its messaging services Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct, and Snapchat. According to Facebook, users will have to wait until 2022 “at the earliest” for a full E2EE service.
SMS texts sent through your phone’s standard messaging system aren’t encrypted. Therefore, try to avoid sending sensitive data through standard SMS.
Step 5: Use an Encrypted Email Services
Most of us send and receive sensitive data through our emails. It’s only natural that we want our email service to be completely secure and encrypted.
Unfortunately, popular email services don’t have E2EE enabled by default. Yes, this includes Gmail and Outlook. Even then, their email encryption services aren’t as secure as they make them seem.
Luckily, there are services that offer additional layers of security and anonymity. Examples include ProtonMail, Posteo, and mailbox.org.
Some of these services offer temporary email addresses that deactivate after a while. Others offer a “self-destroying message” feature. These messages delete themselves once the message has been read by the recipient.
Step 6 (Optional): Install SD-WAN as a Network Overlay
Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a higher-end version of WAN technology.
It’s used for small and big enterprises that use low-cost public internet networks. These networks are susceptible to unauthorized third-party access. This is why people use SD-WAN. Cybersecurity threats are more common in big businesses; after all
SD-WAN is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after online technologies. This is primarily due to the high level of network security it provides. This service encrypts data end-to-end with IPSec tunnels and Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Best of all, it’s fully automated.
We live in a fully modernized digital world. Today, your banking, credit card, and other personal information are all online.
Remember: your internet history is no less important than that of Jeff Bezos or Chelsea Manning! Knowing how to encrypt your internet connection guarantees your internet privacy and security.