It is 2020, and you must have heard about encryption at some point in time by now. All new popular applications and software make full use of encryption to ensure privacy. For instance, WhatsApp ensures back-to-back encryption, and so does Messenger.
Similarly, Apple boasts encrypted data storage on iCloud. But the question you must be wondering is, what is encryption and how does it work? Well, that’s exactly what I’ll try and explain today in this short guide.
What Does Encryption Even Mean?
At the very basic, think of encryption as making something unreadable. Even though the plain text would be available for anyone to read, it will still make no sense. This is what encryption basically is. In more technical terms, encryption scrambles the data that is sent or received on the internet via cryptography in such a way that it becomes unreadable for anyone other than the person it is intended for.
Encrypted data, also known as ciphertext, is ideal for transmission or storage of sensitive data on the internet. It decreases the chances of cybercrimes and protects the users against them. For instance, if you send a ciphertext and it gets caught by an illegal entity, that intruder would have to guess the key variables and the cipher that encrypted the data. This secrecy essentially makes encryption a must-have security tool.
The Best Ways To Encrypt Your Traffic
There are multiple ways to encrypt your traffic. Here are a few of the best ones!
- Use a VPN
- Turn on Encryption For Your Wi-Fi Network
- Use Tor Browser
Use A VPN to Encrypt Your Internet Traffic
The most common way to encrypt your traffic is by using a VPN. So, what is a VPN connection? VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a cyber tunnel that transfers your data to your intended receiver. The good thing about this virtual tunnel is that it keeps the data in it fully encrypted so, in case of a cyber attack, your data remains safe. Apart from encrypting your data, it also makes sure that your IP address and location remain hidden. Therefore, protecting your data and your identity from the cyber world.
Building a connection with VPN is quite simple yet very effective. All you need to do is initiate a connection with the VPN server from the device you are using. Once there is a connection, the VPN server would develop an encrypted cyber tunnel for your traffic. That is about it. You will be fully protected. Even the government can not get logs of your data since there aren’t any. Also, you use your VPN’s location and IP address rather than your own. So, you and your identity are protected at all times!
Turn on Encryption For Your Wi-Fi Network Connection (Use WPA2)
Next up, you can turn on encryption for your Wi-Fi network to protect your traffic. It is relatively, very easy to do so. If you are wondering how to encrypt wifi, all you need to do is follow these steps.
- Go to your browser and enter your router’s IP address in the address bar on the top of your browser window. Once you enter the IP address, you will come to the router’s administrator console, and then you need to log in to it. (An example for the IP address 192.168.1.1, but it can vary. Check the bottom of your router or its box to identify it).
- Once you log in with the password and username on the bottom of your router or its box, click the “Wireless” option on the page.
- Then search for “Wireless Security” and click on it.
- Once there, look for WPA2-PSK under encryption options and enable it.
- Then set a new and strong password for your Wi-Fi.
- Press Save and Exit once done, and you are good to go.
One thing that you need to know is that along with WPA2-PSK, you will see two other types of encryption options. There would be WEP and WPA. Both of these are older kinds of encryption and are way more vulnerable to hacking, even by amateur hackers. WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) was introduced in the 1990s and has since been superseded by WPA due to its severe security issues. WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) was also later superseded by WPA2-PSK once the hacking tools became more powerful, which made such encryption options more vulnerable to breaches.
So, for complete government-grade encryption updated security standards, you need to have WPA2-PSK as your encryption option, rather than the other two.
Use Tor Browser for Anonymous Internet Connection
If you are unaware of the Tor browser, it is an Internet networking protocol that anonymizes the data transmitted on it. It is a separate web browser, similar to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, but it allows you to surf the internet completely anonymously. Its primary purpose is for private communication. It is one of the best ways to encrypt your traffic on the internet.
When you use Tor, your data is bundled into packets that are fully encrypted as they enter the server. Then, unlike all the other browsers, Tor removes some parts of the header from the packets that can be used to determine stuff about the sender, such as the operating system, etc. Later, the rest of the addressing information is encrypted and routed through several servers, known as relays, to their ultimate destination. This mechanism protects the users and gives them complete anonymity on the internet and encrypts all of their traffic.
What Are The Different Types Of Encryptions
There are a handful of different ways you can encrypt your data. Here are the top 5 types of encryptions available.
- Triple Data Encryption Standard (TripleDES): This is a more advanced version of the outdated Data Encryption Standard (DES). Unlike its ancestor, it encrypts traffic using a 56-bit key three times rather than just once, making it a 168-bit key. Although it is a bit old, many businesses and financial organizations still use it.
- Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): This is now the government-standard of encryption in the US. It is symmetric encryption that is based on the Rijndael algorithm. It works at either 128-bit or 192-bit but can go to a 256-bit key length. It is, by far, the best kind of encryption.
- Rivest–Shamir–Adleman (RSA): This is one of the first, if not the first, public-key cryptographic algorithms and uses one-way asymmetric encryption. Although it functions on a 1024-bit key length, it can go up to 2048-bit. This immense length makes it tough to decipher the data.
- Blowfish: It is a symmetric block cipher that has a variable key length that ranges from 32 bits to 448 bits. The data is sent into fixed 64-bit blocks when decrypting and encrypting.
- Twofish: It is the advanced version of Blowfish that uses a symmetric block cipher. It works with a complex key structure and has a key length of either 128, 196, or 256 bits. It is one of the fastest encryption algorithms, making it ideal for both hardware and software.
Why Should You Encrypt Your Internet Traffic
If you have any doubts about data encryption, let me tell you that the internet makes you vulnerable to thefts and hacks if you do not take enough care. Furthermore, here are a few more reasons why you should always encrypt your internet traffic.
- You get complete data protection when you are using the internet. You do not have to worry about anyone stealing and misusing your information. In case you don’t know, your IP address and your operating system can reveal a lot about you, even your exact location.
- You get security across multiple devices. A data encryption software will keep you safe and your data encrypted on all the devices that are in use, whether it is a smartphone, tablet, or PC. Your data will be safe at all times.
- You will be able to transfer data safely to any other person/organization all around the world. If you have some sensitive information that you do not want anyone else to see, encrypt your data, so it becomes much less vulnerable to cyber attacks.
- Your privacy is always protected from the outside world. Your personal information, such as credit card details, email id, and passwords, all of these will remain encrypted in case of a cyber attack.
- Lastly, it enhances your confidence in the fact that all your data, including your backups on the Cloud, are entirely safe at all times.
In a nutshell, with the increasing technological advancements around the world and more use of online means of communication and transmission of data, encryption is more important now than ever.