Encryption is one of the best ways to protect your internet browsing from prying eyes or unwanted third-parties. When it comes to digital information, encryption is the strongest way to make that information understandable to only the person or people you’d like to see it.
Why Should You Encrypt Your Internet Traffic?
Even though you may not realize it, your network activity may contain sensitive information about you. Encrypting your network behavior eliminates the risk of giving unwanted access to this information to your ISP, hackers, or the websites you visit.
Why Internet Encryption Is Important
If privacy is a priority for you, encrypting your network activity is just another step in protecting your data. You can protect your privacy on a micro-level by focusing on keeping websites from collecting your private information, but on a broader scale, you can encrypt all of your internet activity with one sweep by encrypting your router.
How To Encrypt Your Internet Traffic
Checking to see if a given network uses encryption is as simple as looking at the network on your phone or computer. Encrypted, secured networks will typically have a padlock or other indicator that it’s secure. These networks are password protected and you can’t connect without the password. To encrypt your internet traffic, there are a few methods you can use. Here are our favorite ways to protect your network activity with encryption.
Turn On Encryption on Your Wi-Fi Router
Beginner’s guide to encryption
Encryption on your WiFi network comes in the form of password protection. However, there are a few kinds of password protected encryption and they aren’t the same. The main wireless encryption protocols are WEP, WPA and WPA2.
The process for enabling encryption on your router depends on the particular router that you’re using. It’s actually quite simple though. Just log in to your router, by entering your router’s IP address and entering your credentials. The encryption settings are usually in the security settings and just enable WPA2 encryption. You will likely have to set a password and then you’re all set.
WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy. It was introduced in the late 1990s as a method for securing wireless networks. However, it has since been cracked on a number of occasions and is no longer accepted as the industry standard.
WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. It is another security standard for devices with wireless internet connections. WPA was developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, in 2004, to provide more sophisticated encryption and better user authentication than WEP security. The switch from WEP to WPA encryption systems was simple and in most cases just required a firmware update. WPA has specific modes for enterprise and personal users. The enterprise mode offers higher levels of security and more stringent user authentication.
WPA2 is an updated version of the original WPA security. It added “Counter Mode Cipher Block Chaing Message Authentication Code Protocol” or CCMP. This protocol is much stronger and more reliable than the original WPA protocol. While WPA2 is a major improvement over WEP and WPA, it still has its vulnerabilities. WPA2 is still at risk for unauthorized access to the enterprise wireless network, even though these attacks would take hours of effort with state-of-the-art technology.
Taking the five minutes to enable this encryption on your router could pay dividends down the road by protecting your private data from leaking or getting hacked.
Use a VPN
V irtual P rivate N etworks use encryption to keep your browsing more anonymous and also redirect your connection through other locations. VPNs are like encrypted tunnels for your internet connection to flow through. VPN services make it easy to protect all of your internet activity with one easy action. High level encryption is simple with VPN. Most VPNs are very simple to set up and most will walk you through the process.
Read More: The Best Internet Privacy Tools for 2019
Use HTTPS Everywhere
HTTPS (SSL or TLS Encryption) is an encryption protocol that protects the information you enter into a webpage. Without HTTPS, the information you enter into a form can be monitored and collected by anyone monitoring your network. HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that forces websites to load their HTTPS (secure) versions, if the site supports HTTPS.
When you use online services, like email or web browsing, your data travels across the network and gets stored on servers that belong to those companies. Almost all online services and Internet-connected devices have privacy settings you can update to restrict the amount of information collected and/or posted publicly online.
If you are shopping online or paying with a credit card online, you should always make sure you are using the HTTPS version of the website. Without HTTPS encryption, you could be sharing your payment information.
Encrypted messaging obviously doesn’t protect your internet browsing, but communications are an essential point of data exchange that creates security vulnerabilities. Messaging services with encryption keep your communications in encrypted form unless you are the sender or the intended recipient of a given message.
Many encrypted messaging services, like Signal or Telegram, offer additional encrypted functionalities like file sharing or video calling. If you’re concerned with your privacy, encrypted messaging apps can help protect more than just your conversations.
If you still aren’t convinced that encryption is essential for everyone on the internet, here’s another reason. Without encrypting your Wi-Fi network, you are basically inviting freeloaders to steal the bandwidth that you’re paying for. If your neighbors are able to connect to your network your browsing will be noticeably slower. That’s just the beginning. If other people connected to your network have a basic understanding of networks they can monitor your browsing. While your business’ network is likely already protected with enterprise level WPA2, you should verify that your home network is encrypted. You likely enter the most sensitive information on your home network. Encryption on a large scale makes the internet a safer place for everyone.
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