Connecting to the internet without any form of encryption is like standing outside in the blistering cold without a stitch of clothing. You transmit and receive data in plain text format through an unencrypted Internet connection, making it a walk in the park for snoopers and cybercriminals to steal it. Let’s look at the six steps to encrypt your internet connection.
These six steps all work together to encrypt different levels of your internet connection. They are:
- Using WPA2 or 3 on your WiFi router
- Securing your web browser
- Using a reliable VPN service
- End-to-end encrypting all instant messages
- End-to-end encrypting all emails
- Using HTTPS everywhere
People who want to secure their internet connection often get a VPN and believe that will be enough. The problem is that your internet connection works on many layers, and a VPN does not cover them all. The more encryption you have in place for the different layers of your internet connection, the more protected you and your data will be. Let’s have a closer look at how to do that.
1. Encrypt Your Internet Connection Through WPA2 or WPA3
Your WiFi router may not be “the internet” as such, but WiFi routers can provide a snooper easy access to your data and internet connection if it is unprotected. (That’s why you should never use public WiFi for secure or private purposes, like internet banking – you never know what’s being tracked.) Luckily, encrypting your WiFi router is a simple process if your router is modern enough.
All modern WiFi routers have WPA2 and WPA3 encryption standards built-in. When you set up your WiFi network, just ensure that you use either one. Newer standards like WPA3-SAE are always better if your devices support them. Complete the configuration with a strong password or encryption key, using capital letters, numbers, and symbols, and your WiFi will be well-encrypted.
2. Use A Secure Web Browser To Encrypt Your Internet Connection
Web browsers are a common source of data leaks. Many of today’s most popular browsers are very effective at mining your data rather than protecting it, so just settling for “the most commonly used browser” is not always the best option. Browsers’ security and privacy settings are usually not adequate if kept at default values, but some browser extensions can help encrypt browsers.
The best option, though, would be to use a secure web browser. Brave browser is one such option. While Brave does not encrypt your internet connection, it ensures that you use HTTPS while it also blocks trackers and other insecure code. If you need even more encryption, using the Tor browser will ensure that all your web browser traffic is protected using multiple layers of encryption.
3. Encrypt Your Internet Connection With A Reliable VPN
VPN services encrypt your internet connection on your device or your router, effectively encrypting your entire connection and not only your web browsing. The encrypted connection is then routed to a VPN server, where it is decrypted before it’s passed along to the server you actually want to access. This is an effective way to ensure that your internet connection is entirely encrypted.
A key point for VPNs is the word “reliable.” Some VPNs have ulterior motives or will try to make money in any way possible, even if that means leaking your private and personal data. You should also remember that trusting only a VPN with your internet encryption means that there is a single point of failure – if your VPN connection fails, your data is exposed and visible to snoopers.
Finding a reliable VPN is easy if you do your homework and due diligence. Online reviews are helpful, though not always dependable since many VPN companies create fake reviews to market their product. Read news about VPN leaks from reliable sources, and read the terms and conditions before signing up for a VPN. And remember that a VPN should never be your only protection.
4. Use End-To-End Encrypted Messaging Apps
Often the simplest way to get access to your data is through one thing that you did not think of. Text messages, specifically SMS, are usually sent over unencrypted connections meaning they are sent in plain text. Even some specialized messaging apps are still sending and receiving using unencrypted connections. To truly keep your data safe, you have to use end-to-end encrypted messaging apps.
Luckily most messaging apps are starting to use end-to-end encryption these days. Apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal are valuable tools to send encrypted messages over the internet. Just note that not all of them use the same level of encryption, and some, like Telegram, only encrypt the messages if you start a “Secret Chat” – all other messages are still unencrypted.
5. End-To-End Encrypt All Email Messages
As mentioned before, it’s often the small and easily overlooked things that cause leaks, even when using an encrypted internet connection. Email is one of them since emails are usually sent over unencrypted connections. Ideally, you should use end-to-end encryption for all email chats and messages, not just encrypting your emails while they are being transmitted to and from the server.
There are specialized encrypted email platforms like Protonmail and Tutanota, and signing up for one of these services is often the best way to ensure full email encryption. However, most modern email client software like Outlook will allow you to send encrypted emails. The crucial point to remember is that end-to-end encryption means that the recipient also has to have encryption.
6. Use HTTPS Encrypted Connections For All Web Traffic
HTTPS encryption is fast becoming a standard for web traffic, with Google even giving lower page rankings to web pages that do not support it. HTTPS is a protocol that allows you to access websites using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. When you connect to a web page over SSL, using the HTTPS protocol, your connection to that website or web page will always be end-to-end encrypted.
HTTPS allows you to send personal information like credit card details, usernames, passwords, or contact details while knowing that anyone who’s spying on your connection will not be able to hijack and access that data. It’s been a must-have for eCommerce websites for years, but it’s becoming the standard way to access any website these days, even if it’s only an information site like Wikipedia.
Most modern browsers won’t even allow you to access a website if the connection isn’t 100% encrypted with HTTPS, or if they do, they will give you a warning and make you jump through hoops to access it. This is a good thing since many people don’t know why HTTPS is critical. If you find that you do need to access an unencrypted page, be sure to use a VPN or Tor for added protection.
Encrypting your internet connection is not a task that you should leave up to one single solution. When used in combination, these six options should provide you with excellent security and privacy while you’re online. It’s not just for surfing the web; whatever you want to do online, always ensure that you are doing it over an encrypted internet connection.