Your online activities could be monitored by ad tracking network, government agencies, and even your Internet Service Providers (ISP,) not to mention hackers who’d steal your information and use it for malicious purposes.
What can you do to protect your personal data?
Encryption has become an essential tool for safeguarding private and sensitive information that’s being collected and transmitted via the Internet. Here’s how it works and what you need to know:
What’s Encryption and How It Works
Encryption is a process that protects the safety and privacy of data, messages, and files, so they can only be read by a designated party.
By using an algorithm to scramble, or encrypt, information at one end and a key at the receiving end to unscramble, or decrypt, the data, users can securely transmit information electronically.
The EFF Encryption Plan
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting the privacy of data transmitted across the web.
After making HTTPS the “norm” to defend Internet users against the surveillance of their communications, cookie theft, account hijacking, and certain Internet censorship, EFF is now expanding its mission “to encrypt the entire Internet.”
Besides continuing to push for “HTTPS everywhere” and making improvements to TLS (the protocol that drives encryption on the Internet,) EFF will broaden the scope of its mission to encrypting the entire Internet.
It plans to introduce three new encryption technologies: encrypted server name identification (SNI) and encrypted DNS will be used to improve website security while STARTTLS, an email protocol command, will be used to enhance email security.
In addition, EFF is improving Cerbot to make it easier to use with mailserver software. It also works with Certificate Authorities (CAs) to enhance TLS while increasing CA accountability and auditability.
What Internet Users Can Do To Further Encrypt Internet Usage
While the EFF is making a lot of headway in protecting our personal information on the Internet, individual users can also take action to further encrypt their online activities and protect their privacy.
Here’s what you can do:
- Use the Tor Browser – the Tor Browser uses the Tor network, which consists of a series of volunteer-operated relay connections to encrypt and anonymize your Internet connection. The communication protocol encrypts the data several times, so the user’s original IP address is never revealed.
- Use a VPN – VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one of the best ways to encrypt all your Internet traffic by “encasing” your Internet connection in a layer of encryption. For example, mobile internet access is increasingly becoming targeted because most people don’t encrypt their connection while off of a WiFi signal. Using a VPN for your iPhone can protect your information while you’re accessing the Internet via unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Turn on WiFi encryption – set up your WiFi connection such that a password is required to join the network. Also, change the administrator password for the router to prevent hackers from taking over your network.
- Visit websites that use HTTPS – only provide personal data (e.g., usernames, passwords, credit card numbers) to websites that are protected with an encrypted HTTPS connection, which offers a layer of encryption that safeguards the data sent to and received from the site.
- Use encrypted messaging apps – these apps (e.g., Apple’s iMessage, Signal, and WhatsApp) provide end-to-end encryption to your messages.
In today’s digital world in which hackers are prying on our personal data, protecting our private information is of utmost importance.
While EFF is taking many actions to improve Internet security for everyone, it’s important that we stay vigilant and use the latest encryption technologies to protect ourselves while deterring cybercriminals.