Many of us couldn't imagine our lives without the Internet. We use it to entertain ourselves, to talk with relatives and friends, to stay on top of the latest events, and to work as well. In the center of our digital presence is one thing - our IP address. Just like your ID or payment card, your IP address leaves traces all over the Web. This is also what makes you discoverable on the Web and highly vulnerable. Therefore, you are probably wondering how to hide your IP address.
Before we dive any deeper, let's set the record straight why you might want to hide your IP. We're not talking about hiding your IP address so that you can do less than morally or legally acceptable things online. We're talking about preserving your right to protect your personal information. Therefore, we are going to discuss how to stay safe online by disabling third-parties from tracking your whereabouts. That is why you should learn how to hide your IP address.
What is an IP Address, In The First Place?
There are quite a few people who may not be that well-aware of what an IP address is, which is why the basics are important to discuss. In essence, the IP address is just like your home or work address. It is a unique number that is assigned to a machine that provides the user with Internet access. Think of it this way, just like your home address or college address is unique to that place only. Similarly, an IP address is only associated with the one machine that it connects through.
Basically, the Internet is a complex network of several systems that are connected to each other. For them to communicate efficiently and smoothly, the IP address or Internet Protocol have been devised. The IP address connects various systems and networks to each other, ensuring that all the information is transferred from one point to another in a structured manner.
Your IP is Your ID On The Web!
All the systems that are connected to the Internet have to be assigned an IP address. Each of the devices that we use in our every day, be it a PC, laptop or printer, is given an individual and unique IP address which will not connect through on any other machine. Just like any your identification or license plate number, these IP addresses are also all different from each other.
These addresses are able to pinpoint the location of the machine or device that they connect to. Simply put, the IP address assigned to any of your devices will be able to point to their location. Now, you may be wondering that what if this could be avoided?
The answer to that is negative. The physical location of the machine is vital information that is a prerequisite for the Internet protocol and it cannot be surpassed by any technical means. In order to set up a connection that communicates efficiently, the IP address must have the location of the device it has been assigned to.
Due to this very reason, digital security and data protection have become one of the primary concerns of people across the globe. A person who possesses the technical knowledge will be able to easily pinpoint the location of any other through their IP addresses.
Now, this was a brief insight into the IP address and its function to give you an idea of why it is important to hide it.
Why Would You Want to Hide Your IP?
There can be several reasons for keeping one’s IP address hidden. Most of the times, people do it out of concerns for security and to protect themselves against cyber criminals. Look at it this way, if you are told that crimes within your locality have suddenly increased drastically and there have been several incidents of robbery, would you not want to immediately move your family to another safe haven? Obviously, that is the ideal scenario, but a number of times, it is not possible for everyone to just relocate.
However, when the situation happens to be based within the digital world, the idea of an instant move can become a reality. The alteration or change in an IP address makes it virtually impossible for a third party to track your location or digital footprint.
In this day and age, cyber criminals seem to pose a threat to everything. Be it personal data, financial records, classified information or any other secure network. With a significant rise in reports of hacking, a breach in security and data leaks, the threat of cyber crime is one that almost all users are exposed to. Hence, immediate action should be taken in order to ensure that your confidential information online should be protected.
For the average user, the threat of an attack on their digital security may not be on that large a scale, but it can still result in a huge loss. This is why it is ideal to keep the IP address hidden for any one of the following reasons:
With an IP address, the location of a person is at permanent risk of exposure since protocol requires it to deliver information from one end to another. The data that you are sending out has been enabled through the network that is based nearest to your location. An IP address makes it possible for any third-party from anywhere in the world to pinpoint the exact location of a user.
Cyber criminals or stalkers who want to target a victim can relatively easily access their location via the assigned IP address. It is actually a very scary thought that while you may be sitting within the security of your home, feeling warm and safe, another person might be able to access or track your whereabouts easily.
In essence, an IP address has information regarding your geolocation that includes the country of origin, state, city, zip code along with longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This means that anybody who wants to can determine your GPS location by tracking your IP address.
Hence, one of the biggest reasons for hiding the IP address is keeping one’s location obscure. In order to prevent a third party from gaining access to your personal information, people can opt to hide their Internet protocol addresses.
Bypassing Restrictions on IP Address
There are quite a number of organizations as well as countries that restrict the public access to certain websites and forums for various purposes. When it comes to countries like China and Russia, Internet users are restricted from accessing information that contains an anti-government agenda. Hence, many social media networks, as well as web pages, have their IP addresses blocked to restrict the average user’s access.
Even within the United States and several other free countries, there are organizations, schools and colleges, preventing people from viewing certain content. In this era, technology has made it possible for the average person to voice and share their opinion in any way possible. When authorities block the IP addresses of certain websites or forums, they are taking away the right to express a personal opinion from their people.
Only you can decide what content you should be accessing and viewing. Hence, the best possible manner to bypass any restrictions is hiding the IP address assigned to your system. Once the IP address cannot be detectable, it becomes significantly easier to access information and web pages that have been blocked.
As a user, you have the right to access any content that you want, no matter what. You can make your way around any restrictions by keeping your IP address hidden.
Prevent (Overcome) IP Bans
Sometimes, a website or forum can block the user from accessing its content by banning their IP address. There have been instances where people from the United States have been unable to access their paid Netflix accounts from another country since streaming service does not allow foreign IP addresses. As you can imagine, changing your IP will let you access American Netflix, as well as services like Hulu, HBO GO, and numerous others.
Similarly, other platforms also block users from accessing content from various sources as it may be from servers located elsewhere. In order to bypass the bans and prevent your IP addresses from getting blocked, you can always hide it. This is actually an ideal way to access services and content that has led to your IP address being mistakenly or wrongfully banned.
As times become more uncertain, it has become all the more necessary to maintain anonymity while surfing online. Your identity and personal information could already be at risk, which is why data protection should be an utmost priority. The simplest way to become anonymous in the digital world is by hiding one’s IP address.
Once your IP address becomes obscure and difficult to track, no third party will be able to access your information or discover your identity.
Protection Against Targeted Cyber Attacks
Cyber criminals can target anyone on the Internet at random, which means that even you or any other average user might end up becoming their victim. Hence, it is always in everyone’s best interest that they are well-prepared and protected against all kinds of cyber threats. If you feel that your digital footprints are being tracked and your online activity seems suspicious, then the prompt action is required.
It could mean that your IP address is vulnerable and has been targeted by a cyber-criminal. In order to secure your information and system, you can hide your IP address so that the person trying to breach it can no longer detect anything.
Targeted cyber-attacks have been occurring quite frequently, resulting in identity theft, loss of personal records and financial information. An average person, if targeted, can end up having their social security number or bank account details stolen by a cyber-criminal. This is potentially very dangerous and may cause irreparable damage. Therefore, it is better to protect yourself before any harm can be done and immediately hide the IP address.
Prevent Governments from Monitoring Your IP Address
You may already be aware that there are several state entities which monitor their people’s online activity and keep a track of all the information exchanged. Now, it may seem controversial but there is always a possibility that your government is keeping an eye on you. In today’s age, it is not even that difficult. Almost every other person is active on social media and likes to share details of their personal lives with friends as well as followers across the globe.
This means that anyone who wants to is able to gain access to data and information easily. Government agencies and corporations can keep a track of people through their digital footprints. In fact, even your surfing history can be collected and logged, which is how you get targeted advertisements based on the websites you might have previously visited.
If you want to avoid all this and remain hidden from all such entities, then you can easily do so by hiding your IP address. When you hide your Internet protocol address, you are not only obscuring your location and protecting your identity but also preventing targeted content from coming your way.
How to Hide Your IP Address - 6 Useful Actions
As mentioned above, hiding an IP address is hardly a challenge. There are quite a few ways to go about it, some of which have been listed here.
1. Ask Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
We do not get a say in which IP address gets assigned to us. Hence, one of the ways of getting it altered or hiding it is to contact the Internet Service Provider and ask them. Basically, there are two types of Internet Protocols that are assigned to people; static and dynamic. The former is not prone to any changes and remains as it is, while the latter can be altered.
Most Internet Service Providers assign users with dynamic IPs, which means that if you ask your ISP - they might change it, albeit after slight initial apprehension. You may have to face a few questions to satisfy them as to why you need it hidden or altered.
If the service provider refuses to oblige, then you can take matters into your own hand. It may sound extreme but will work. Users can opt for disconnecting their modem for a short span of time. By reconnecting the modem after a while, you would have disrupted your connection with the ISP, which will lead to the assigning of a new IP address.
This is quite a time consuming and lengthy process, which also causes users to lose their Internet connectivity for a while. It is most effective for changing IP addresses instead of hiding them.
2. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
This is actually the best and most effective way of keeping your IP address hidden. VPNs or Virtual Private Networks were previously only used by agencies and corporations to communicate privately online. However, in the last decade, they have become significantly popular among the everyday users as well.
A VPN transmits information and data via a secure channel which means that all your data becomes encrypted. It comes with additional security features that include detection of external threat. Once a VPN channel senses intrusion, it will immediately change the connection and move through another server. This is why it's often said that VPNs boost your online privacy. There are several benefits to using a VPN, such as:
- Prevention Against Data Throttling: It so happens that ISPs can at times throttle your connection if they sense that too much of the bandwidth is being consumed. A VPN will prevent that from happening and ensure that you are able to stream or download at optimum speeds.
- No Censorship: You can bypass any kind of censorship through a VPN and access blocked content or information if required.
- Protection Against Cyber Threats: Now, you may be wondering about how to access this VPN? Well, it is quite simple. All you have to do is opt for any one of the several reliable VPN service providers and set up your connection. As soon as your system is activated, your real IP address will be protected with another one which monitors the external traffic coming in.
3. Proxy Servers
Proxies might seem similar to VPNs but there are vast differences. A proxy server is like a bridge that tunnels your information through to the other end, altering it as passes. Basically, a proxy server takes charge of the connection and repeats everything that you do online. This means that the traffic is virtually undetectable to another entity.
Proxies also enable the user to access blocked content in any other country by connecting to their local server. For example, if you want to find information on a country that does not allow foreign users, you can easily do so via a proxy.
Whilst proxy servers are ideal for bypassing restrictions, they do little to hide an IP address. This is where it most prominently differs from a VPN. While a proxy may be able to provide you access to geo-blocked content, it does not enable protection, which means that your service provider will be able to collect all your information. Other than that, a proxy does not have the necessary encryption or security layers to hide the IP address and prevent it from being stolen.
4. Tor Network
Tor is basically a program that allows users to download and use to conceal their identity when surfing online. It employs a volunteer operated network of servers that people can connect with and be assigned a new IP address.
There are several ways to get started with this technology. However, the easiest one is by using the Tor Browser. This is a special Web browser that is powered by so-called Tor nodes. Similarly to how P2P networks work, Tor relies on a number of individuals who are actively using this platform. Still, you need to know that this network come with limited resources. What this means is that your Web connection will be throttled, which is why we can't recommend it for everyday use.
5. Mobile Data
By connection via your cell phone’s data network, you can register an immediate change in your IP address. This is a short term solution that only works in emergencies. If you can remember, every device needs to have a unique IP address on the Web. This means that when you connect to the Web from a different device (even within the same Wi-Fi network), you will end up with a new IP.
As you can imagine, this isn't the best solution out there. After all, the IP address of your mobile device will be logged somewhere. So, you can rely on mobile data when you want to access something quickly.
6. Public Wi-Fi
This is an easy way to go undetected as a public Wi-Fi is an open network, which means that individual IP addresses will keep on changing. However, you need to take precautionary steps when using open Web connections. That is because all devices connected to the same Wi-Fi can share information - and malware as well. So, make sure to read our article on how to use public Wi-Fi safely.
These are a few ways through which you can hide your IP address and secure their data from external threats as well as prying eyes. In case you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to post a comment.