Using multiple virtual tools, such as a secure browser and special extensions, you can protect Internet traffic or network activity and privacy at the micro level. On a larger scale, you can encrypt Internet connection in a single pass by encrypting the router via a VPN.
You can encrypt internet connection in the following ways:
If you want your traffic to be protected from third parties, encryption is a reliable way to protect your privacy and security.
Data scrambling or encryption involves encoding data using cryptography and an encryption key from a readable format to an unreadable format so that it can be decoded by trusted recipients with a decryption key. Algorithms encrypt data into random strings of characters, making them unusable for illegal possession: unauthorized parties will see a random set of unencrypted bytes.
Encrypted data is ideal for transferring and storing sensitive data on the Internet. If attackers get ahold of encrypted text, they will have to guess the key variables and the cipher. PCs can perform complex mathematical calculations and generate random data, which are important aspects of encryption. Algorithms in modern encryption are very complicated. They are almost impossible to crack even for a huge period of time because no two sequences are the same.
Unencrypted data is similar to plain text, which can be intercepted by anyone – from an Internet service provider (ISP) to a government agency or cybercriminal. But all of them rely on unencrypted traffic.
Cybercriminals create fake “spoofing” Wi-Fi networks, trick users into connecting to them and siphon traffic from the connected device. Hackers use unsecured public Wi-Fi networks and security holes to redirect Internet traffic to their PCs. They scour it for valuable data, redirect users to phishing websites because they see which URLs users were going to access.
If you do not encrypt all network traffic, your data, accounts, passwords, credit cards and content may be hacked behind your back. In the wrong hands, these data points can be collected to create a digital profile in order to commit fraud, blackmail and phishing attacks against the owner.
You are faced with government and government agencies that are against privacy and wish to track online activity by checking the traffic of banned websites. Wiretapping is happening not only to public figures and criminals. Government programs target terrorists but more often collect data on innocent citizens.
Partnerships with law enforcement agencies and copyright associations also encourage Internet service providers to track traffic. IPS can provide the police with your browsing history, email, download records or notify the author that you have downloaded a copyrighted movie.
The provider can analyze data packets to determine whether you are viewing websites and using web applications; whether you are using a lot of data or streaming. Having this information, they can limit bandwidth. After the fall of net neutrality in the US, IPS is allowed to sell customer data and browsing history to advertisers in order to deliver targeted personalized ads to the browser.
VPN browser encryption methods don’t allow the provider to be aware of the activity on the network, providing access to the desired sites at any time without interference and blocking. Network blacklists and IT surveillance are fruitless attempts if you use encryption.
Have you tried to access Facebook via Wi-Fi in your workplace but found it blocked? That’s because the network administrator has blocked it. Site blocking and traffic monitoring are designed to keep you focused on your tasks. But in practice, they are often aggressive.
Network administrators can see and control everything that happens in their networks, including unencrypted web traffic. This can be a problem if you are caught visiting “distracting” websites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) at work or at school.
If you don’t set a password to connect to the Wi-Fi network, your security level will be like in a local cafe with free access point. You leave the network open to everyone within reach, allowing you to connect and track your online activities and exploit the weaknesses of any of your connected devices.
"But I'm already using password-protected Wi-Fi, so it's okay, right?" Actually, no. Password-protected Wi-Fi doesn’t mean that your data is safe. Therefore, I have prepared a list of mandatory (in the first section) and additional encryption methods. Their use will significantly increase the level of protection in the network.
There are several types of password-protected encryption and they don’t match. Install the WPA2 or latest WPA3 password encryption protocols instead of the less secure legacy WEP and WPA. WPA2 is an updated version of the original WPA security system with the addition of the CCMP authentication code protocol. This protocol is stronger and more reliable than the original WPA Protocol.
This step doesn’t protect against IPS or government surveillance but will deter hackers by encrypting traffic on your network. It is the first basic step you should take to set up an encrypted WiFi connection. The procedure may differ depending on the router model. You will have to access the control panel of your router by entering its IP address and your credentials in the browser.
Log in to your router’s admin console. This is done by accessing the router’s IP address as a URL. Enter http://192.168.1.1 or http://10.0.0.1 in the address bar at the top of the browser window. The IP address may differ, so check the bottom of the router or its field to determine it).
You will be prompted to enter the router’s username and password (by default, this info is specified at the bottom of the router, often referred to as admin and password). If you can’t find this information, please contact the administrator, visit the manufacturer's website, and read the attached documents. If nothing helps, reset the router to restore factory settings.
In a web browser, go to the administration page of the router. The admin page address usually has the following format: 83.223.X.XXX. The appearance and actions for setting the Wi-Fi password and changing the administrator password may vary depending on the brand and model of your router.
Find the wireless network settings tab on the admin page. Depending on the router model, the web page will look different. Your router can call this section Wireless > Security or something like that. When you visit the router manufacturer’s website, check for updates to your router’s firmware.
Check your router and Wi-Fi settings to ensure that the WPA2 encryption protocol is enabled. Other protocols, such as WEP and WPA, are outdated and may be vulnerable. Change the encryption parameter to WPA2-PSK or the new WPA3. If WPA2 doesn’t fit, you may need to update the router’s firmware or buy a new wireless router if the current one is outdated.
Click Save or Apply to make changes. The router may require to restart the PC for the settings to take effect. Reconnect all wireless devices by picking the correct network name and entering a new password for each.
A virtual private network (VPN) is probably the best way to encrypt Internet traffic, not just the browser. A VPN is an online service that hides your IP address and location, encrypts all web traffic using sophisticated algorithms, routing your data through remote servers to a selected recipient.
You are using a VPN client on your device to connect to a VPN server. The VPN client and server negotiate the connection and establish an encrypted tunnel between them. From now on, all traffic will pass through this tunnel. There, it is decoded and transmitted to its destination. The website sees the request coming from the VPN server, not your real IP address. It sends the requested data back to the server, where it is encrypted and sent to you.
If traffic is intercepted between you and the VPN server, no one can view its actual content. You will be completely protected, the sites you visit will never know your real IP address or location.
It is important that you trust your VPN provider, as this is the only organization that has access to your traffic. The majority of VPNs for home don’t preserve logs, activity records or IP addresses, and your traffic is erased immediately after processing. Find a VPN that specifies Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) – the state standard and symmetric encryption with a key length of 256 bits. You can configure a VPN router to protect all network devices.
Your VPN provider will have access to Internet traffic. If you need absolute privacy, you can use the Onion Router (Tor), which is one of the best VPNs for Dark Web and an anonymous browser. It is a network protocol that anonymizes data, provides encrypted Internet traffic and routes it through several independent PCs with specialized software.
Tor browser encrypts traffic three times using various decentralized nodes. Each node is maintained by an independent volunteer who eliminates one layer of encryption so that no one can see the message completely.
Since the volunteers aren’t connected with each other, there is no chance to detect the connection. The “onion routing” method is called like that because of the application layer of the communication protocol stack, similar to the onion layers. None of the PCs on the Tor network has full information about the source and purpose of Internet traffic.
Tor anonymizes actions only in its encrypted Internet browser. Any other Internet activity is routed in the usual tracked way. The output node (the last Tor server through which traffic passes) decrypts the data. It isn’t very transparent since there is no supervision of the service nodes.
If you really wish to encrypt your Internet connection using Tor, you must connect to the VPN server before connecting to the Tor network. Even if a malicious node decrypts your Tor traffic, the person who runs it will only see the encrypted VPN traffic. Keep in mind that you will get a pretty poor speed.
When you visit a secure website, the URL in the address bar starts with “https://”, not “http://”. This is because the encrypt network becomes “s” – secure. You can see a small green lock, depending on the browser. HTTPS (SSL or TLS encryption) is a secure protocol for encrypting information entered on a web page. Web servers use HTTPS, authenticating both sides and checking whether the sent data has been violated.
HTTPS is the standard, but some websites only use HTTPS on the login pages or checkout process, leaving the rest of the site unencrypted. Without HTTPS, the information you enter in the form can be tracked and collected by anyone. This data includes usernames, passwords, credit card and phone numbers.
You must not enter personal information or pay for purchases with a credit card on any websites other than HTTPS. Fortunately, most websites, such as shopping ones, use HTTPS encryption for automatic encryption.
Users of Chrome, Firefox and Opera can force websites to use HTTPS encryption. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed a free browser extension called HTTPS Everywhere. It automatically enables encrypted Internet connection for websites that support HTTPS.
You visit a website by entering a URL, but this address isn’t the location of the website. The site has its own IP address, which the browser actually visits. The URL is just easier to remember. If you want to connect to a website by name, your browser will send a request to your IPS DNS server to get the site’s IP address. DNS stands for Domain Name System – a phone book for websites that matches names with numbers. DNS servers are usually served by your provider or third-party servers.
The problem is that DNS is usually not encrypted. It implies MITM attacks and DNS filtering. Your DNS server operator can see the list of sites visited, and hackers can intercept your DNS queries and find out what you are doing on the Internet.
Encrypted DNS over HTTPS solves the problem by encrypting DNS queries. It isn’t difficult since most browsers (Chrome, Opera, Edge) already support it, Firefox uses it by default. Enter the following URLs in the address bar of the corresponding browser and enable Secure DNS lookups:
You type in text on the smartphone and send it via text message or Facebook Messenger. These methods are convenient, but they aren’t private. Text messages may be disclosed if the processing company doesn’t use encryption. For instance, Facebook Messenger doesn’t use end-to-end encryption, which means that your conversations are monitored.
You can use end-to-end encryption with Messenger and the secret conversation feature. But it doesn’t encrypt group messages, GIFs, payments, voice and video calls. Facebook is part of the NSA’s surveillance program to collect text messages. Apple, Facebook and Skype are part of their surveillance program (PRISM). Mass text message monitoring has inspired the creation of many applications for exchanging encrypted messages.
The best apps use end-to-end encryption (E2EE), for instance, Telegram and pre-installed Apple Messages. Both the sender and the recipient have the public and private keys needed to decrypt the message. The message can only be unlocked if both keys are present.
You may have an email account password, but emails are vulnerable to interception during transmission if the mail provider’s servers are hacked. Gmail and AOL allow you to scan email. Yahoo! hasn’t yet implemented end-to-end encryption, it was accused of scanning email.
To encrypt email, use Open Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) – an open Protocol with public-private key encryption. With OpenPGP, each party has a key known only to them that allows them to send encrypted emails. Download, for instance, the free open-source client GNU Privacy Guard. One of the advantages of PGP is its integration into the mail service. There are many plugins that add PGP support to email client applications.
We rely on such cloud storage services as Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive. While these services excel at protecting data from unauthorized access, they have access to the contents of files and can’t protect you if your account is hacked. Apple boasts encrypted data storage in iCloud.
If you don't like that Google or Microsoft has access to your confidential files, try the best encryption software. It integrates with most well-known storage services and adds a layer of encryption to protect files before uploading them to the cloud.