encrypt internet connection

How to Encrypt an Internet Connection in 2020

On the web, various encryption standards ensure that your data is kept safe from the prying eyes of intruders. Simultaneously, the procedures used for encrypting data can be massively complicated.

However, the fundamental idea behind all types of encryption standards is really quite simple – to keep your online data safe.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the process of encoding a particular message that can only be decoded by the intended recipients. The procedure turns your data from a readable format into an unreadable one. This is done to keep your valuable data hidden from unwanted eyes.

How Does Encryption Work?

Encryption utilizes secure algorithms to turn your data into a gibberish format. The data is then sent to the intended receiving party, who uses a private key to successfully and securely decode the transmitted message.

Why Should You Encrypt Your Internet Connection?

When it comes down to encrypting your online traffic, the reason is pretty simple – you want to secure your data from prying eyes. It’s reported that hackers attack every 39 seconds, on average, 2,244 times a day.

 Additional reasons for encrypting your internet connection are as follows:

  •         Data that’s unencrypted is like inviting hackers to view and misuse your information. It’s equivalent to having your data in plain text, which can easily be obtained by snoopers.
  •         An encrypted internet connection keeps online activities hidden from your internet service provider (ISP), third-party trackers, government agencies, and cybercriminals who keep looking for loopholes to target you.
  •         An encrypted internet connection gives you peace of mind when browsing or streaming on the web as you know state-of-the-art encryption algorithms protect you.
  •         By encrypting your internet connection, you can successfully bypass ISP throttling and penalties for accessing restricted websites.

Data is the new return on investment in today’s time, making your information a valuable commodity. Data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records in the first half of 2019 alone. With data being the most sought after item, there are always entities interested in your online activities.

With an average cost of a data breach being $3.92 million in 2019, it’s clear that data breaches end up costing businesses and individuals billions of dollars in damages each year. Nevertheless, encrypting your internet connection is the most reliable way to protect your online privacy.

Risks of an Unencrypted Data Transfer

If you’re transmitting unencrypted data on the web via an unsecured network, there are high chances that your data may get intercepted by an intruder. It doesn’t matter if it’s a private network or a public WiFi network; unencrypted data is a high risk on both networks.

According to security experts:

“In this Internet-dominated era with billions of downloads and installations happening worldwide, a security flaw may expose private data unsheltered for attacks, leaving many users defenseless.”

An unencrypted data that hosts sensitive information leads to online attacks such as identity theft, phishing scams, fraud, and misuse of financial data, including, but not limited to, credit card details, bank account numbers, home address, phone numbers, and other personally-identifying information.

Data breaches take place on both large and small scales. It doesn’t matter if it’s a public or a private company; both are equally vulnerable. These days, hackers target small to mid-sized businesses (SMEs) because such institutions don’t have a secure IT infrastructure.

Data Breaches in the US (2005 to 2020)

data breaches

10 Ways to Encrypt an Internet Connection

When you’re connecting to the internet, encrypting your connection should be your primary objective. Here’s how:

  1.     Ensure an HTTPS Connection

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, better known as, HTTPS, is the green lock icon in the address bar. It’s a symbol that represents an encrypted website connection. As encryption has become a necessity, websites are ditching the old-school HTTP and switching to HTTPS. The “S” in HTTPS stands for “Secure.”

  1.     Use WPA2 Encryption

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, commonly known as WPA2, is a network security encryption standard generally utilized by Wi-Fi networks. WPA2 is an upgrade of the original WPA technology. Once you’ve enabled WPA2 on your router, your internet connection is backed by the most up-to-date encryption standard.

  1.     Use Privacy Browser Extensions

The Chrome webstore hosts a plethora of privacy featured browser extensions that add an extra layer of security to your internet connection. You can install extensions that upgrade your HTTP connection to HTTPS for websites that don’t utilize HTTPS.

However, when downloading third-party extensions, be sure to opt for reliable developers and not newly registered shady sources. The last thing you want is for those very extensions designed to secure your internet connection to monitor your online activities.

  1.     Employ End-to-end encryption

End-to-end encryption, or E2EE, is the process of encrypting your online communications. This prevents your data from being accessed by third-parties while the data is being transferred from one device to another. The sender encrypts the data while the intended recipient decrypts the message.

Most messaging apps now use end-to-end encryption. When sending and receiving text, images, documents, and other files via messaging apps, make sure that the app offers end-to-end encryption.

  1.     Use Encrypted Email Services

Similar to how you use end-to-end encryption on messaging services, you can also use email services that offer strong encryption.

Several email services provide a robust level of online anonymity. With multiple options, such as assigning you temporary email addresses to burner messages, you can maximize the use of encrypted email services for ultimate online secrecy.

  1.     Use Encrypted Browsers

Rather than installing privacy extensions, you also have the option to use encrypted browsers altogether. These browsers offer an HTTPS connection by default and use a private network to route your internet traffic. Browsers such as Bravo, Firefox, and Opera are all good options.

  1.     Use a Tor Browser

Since most of our internet related queries are done via a browser, it only makes sense that the browser must offer encryption and online anonymity. Tor is a renowned browser best known for encrypting your online traffic three times via three different decentralized nodes.

What this means is that an independent volunteer runs every single node. Since the volunteers are not related to each other, it leaves almost no chance of an intruder to get a hold of the whole message.

However, it’s worth mentioning that Tor’s primary focus is anonymity instead of offering users online privacy. At the same time, Tor slows down your internet connection, and you’re unaware of the authenticity of who’s operating a particular node.

  1.     Use a VPN

The most effective way to encrypt your online traffic is to use a renowned virtual private network (VPN). A VPN offers state-of-the-art AES 256-bit encryption that encrypts your entire online traffic.

A VPN provides a global network of servers and IP options to choose your choice’s location and IP. Once connected, your internet traffic routes through remote servers which help you browse the web securely and privately.

With multiple VPN services claiming to be the best ones, you should immediately shun free VPN services as they are known to sell your data to third parties. They’re free for a reason: the cost is your true privacy. Opt for a reliable paid VPN service. Learn more about the best VPN service.

All in all, it takes individual efforts to encrypt an internet connection. As always, make a habit of updating your internet-enabled devices and being cautious on the web.

Ather Owais Ather Owais is a tech and cybersecurity enthusiast. He is a strong advocate for online privacy and security, following technological trends and their impact on today's digital era.

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