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Rather than going through each of my apps and modifying settings, or tweaking individual browser settings (I use three different browsers) or just being careful not to type non-SSL URLs into the web address bar, is there a solution at the Windows level that will prevent anything from connecting to the web from my laptop unless it's using SSL?

I also have mini apps installed like Gmail checker, etc that connect to the web of their own volition using my usernames, passwords and such, so it goes beyond just web browsers.

The reason I'm asking is I want to work securely on the general Internet when on public Wifi (e.g. coffee shops) without a lot of hassle or having to remember everything that needs to be locked down.

When I'm back home I want to go back to full access mode using any kind of protocol on the web.

If a website doesn't support SSL when I'm out in public then I just don't surf it - that's not a worry to me.

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You could forbid SSL-less HTTP. But do not forget all the other protocols that use encryption optionally. –  grawity Nov 15 '10 at 19:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

What you need is a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

This will encrypt all the traffic between your laptop and the VPN server, protecting you from other users on the open wireless network. There really isn't any other system-level solution and it's impractical to try to avoid non-SSL sites - most web services will log you in with SSL, but then silently drop back to an unencrypted connection leaving you wide-open to attack.

There are a great many VPN services available, both paid and ad-supported. Alternatively, you can run your own. In either case, a search of either this site or maybe lifehacker should get you headed in the right direction.

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You can create an outbound rule in the Windows firewall to block all ports ports but 443. That's probably the closest you will do with built in Windows tools. Note that this doesn't force the transfer to use SSL, only that it uses port 443. That's almost certainly HTTPS though, but not an absolute guarantee.

Go to:

  1. Control Panel
  2. Windows Firewall
  3. Advanced Settings
  4. Right click on Outbound Rules
  5. Select New Rule...
  6. Then go through the setup wizard and block all TCP ports but 443.
  7. You'll also want to create a rule to block UDP traffic as well.
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