written by: Ada Stoy•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/19/2010
The Internet is a very insecure medium and this is why, if you want peace of mind, you need to take measures to protect yourself. Encryption is one of the best defenses you can take and this is why you need to learn how to encrypt your Internet traffic.
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Internet Encryption Is a Necessity
You don't have to be a security paranoid in order to encrypt your Internet traffic. The Internet is a very insecure medium and if you don't take the adequate measures to protect yourself against the risks, the results could be really devastating.
Many people commonly use encryption because they don't want their employer and/or ISP to know their whereabouts. This is only natural – if you frequently exchange sensitive data (and I don't mean top secret government docs), you can't allow this data to go unencrypted. Passwords and credit card numbers are the typical examples of sensitive data and since everybody uses them, it is obvious why everybody needs to encrypt Internet traffic.
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How to Encrypt Internet Traffic: Available Options
In those cases, when your traffic is not encrypted, you need to encrypt it. In many cases your traffic with a particular site is already encrypted (for instance many logins are secure and many ecommerce sites use encryption by default) and there is nothing left for you to do but in all other cases you need to encrypt your traffic. The available options how to encrypt Internet traffic are basically these:
1. Check if the application you want to use has encryption options. This is the easiest option and basically it involves no effort on your side but to enable an option or two. Very often many of the applications you want to use offer encryption. In some cases encryption could be on by default but generally it isn't because it speeds down your connection and loads the CPU and this is why application developers opt to disable it.
If the application you want to use supports encryption, you can always enable it. For instance, Torrent encryption is included in the leading torrent applications. The option you need in order to enable encryption might be “Use Encryption", “Encrypt Traffic", “Enable SSL", “Protocol Encryption" or anything in this line. Check if the application you want to use encryption with has such options and if there are, just enable them.
2. Use encryption software. Since Internet encryption is so important, as can be expected, there is a lot of encryption software to encrypt your Internet traffic (or particular portions of it). There are free and paid encryption software, so the choice is really rich. JAP and Tor are commonly considered to be the best encryption software, so you might want to start with them.
There is encryption software for particular purposes, too. For instance, IM and browser plugins encrypt only the traffic that goes through your instant messenger/browser only. Check what encryption plugins are available for your browser and instant messenger and start using them.
3. DIY encryption. If you are a developer and you would like to create your own encryption solution, this is also an option. If you don't want to start from scratch, there are open source encryption packages you can use as a basis and with some fine-tuning, you can get what you want.
Encryption software is the easiest way to encrypt your Internet traffic. It is true that it gives you less control, but if you value your security online and have no time to search for alternatives, this is the easiest choice you have when you are wondering how to encrypt your Internet traffic.