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My computer is connected to a switch. Numerous other network devices are also connected to the (local) switch.

Is there a simple way of determining whether the connection between my desktop and another network device (i.e. a printer, another desktop, etc) is encrypted? Without the need for packet sniffers, etc?

I interested in determining whether outgoing traffic from my desktop is being encrypted at the workstation level.

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    What does printer doc and support say? Aug 18 '15 at 3:42
  • A sniffer is the only way to be sure.
    – schroeder
    Aug 18 '15 at 3:53
  • It's not so much the connection to the printer, but all outgoing traffic from my PC, in a LAN context.
    – KimberleyK
    Aug 18 '15 at 4:02
  • You need to edit your question so as not to make it seem you are solely interested in the printer communication.
    – schroeder
    Aug 18 '15 at 4:32
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There are lots of protocols on a LAN that use encryption, so if you know you are using one of those, you can make some assumptions.

But you open up the question when you say "all outgoing traffic" because it is possible that proxies force unencrypted traffic on the LAN but turns it into encrypted traffic outside the LAN, even though you specify that you wanted to use encryption (like HTTPS).

WiFi communication can be encrypted, too, but only on one layer of the communication. So, it is possible to say that "all your WiFi communication is encrypted" but as soon as it hits the switch, anyone on the LAN can read it in plaintext. But it depends on the layer of the communication that you are asking about.

The shortest route to an answer is to ask the network technicians about what encryptions are used and where, but they might not give you a complete answer for your specific situation.

The only way to be sure is to see the traffic itself by using a packet sniffer. It's the reason they exist. Wireshark, for instance, is small, easy to use, and has tons of pre-packaged analyzers to help you answer these types of questions.

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  • +1 for: it is possible that proxies force unencrypted traffic on the LAN but turns it into encrypted traffic outside the LAN
    – user45139
    Aug 18 '15 at 4:58

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