There is a variety of reason why someone might want to hide their IP address. Whether you live in a country with strict internet censorship laws or do not want third-party members looking through your internet history, everyone should know the importance of anonymity online.
But where do you begin? Luckily, in this article, we give you a variety of different ways you can hide your IP address while using the internet. We also give you a crash course on how to do it. But, before we get started, we need to cover some basic terminology. So, let us take a look at what an IP address is and how to hide your IP address.
What Is An IP Address?
An IP address is a specific number that every internet user gets assigned when they go online. The IP in IP address stands for Internet Protocol, and essential the number becomes linked to everything you do while online.
Think of your IP address as a return address. Every time you do something on the internet, it is kind of like sending out a letter. So, if someone wants to trace who sent, then they would consult the return address on the letter. The same goes for IP addresses.
While IP addresses are important, they are not permanent. When your internet service provider assigns you a number, you should know that it can change quite quickly. Even something as simple as unplugging your modem and then plugging it back in can reset your IP address.
When you connect to the internet, the first thing you need to do is connect to a network. That network then grants you access to use the internet. The interface can be either a private work network, an internet service provider, or a public wifi system in a public place, like Starbucks.
As its name suggests, programmers built the IP address system into the very DNA of the internet — its protocol. Unfortunately, companies, advertisers, and cybercriminals often exploit the vulnerable nature of IP addresses to take or steal the personal information of innocent people.
If this system seems majorly flawed to you, then you are not wrong. When the military first created the internet, they designed it as an emergency communication system that could not be knocked out with a single attack. It was never meant to support the vast commercial and social infrastructure now in place.
As such, every person owes it to themselves to take the necessary precautions when using the internet. In many cases, this precaution means hiding your IP address from your internet provider. But, if you are still hesitant about hiding your IP address, then here are some reasons that might change your mind.
Why Would I Need to Hide My IP Address?
While the favorite excuse “I have nothing to hide” might sound fine and dandy, it does not hold much weight when you use the internet. The fact is that even if you have a clean search history the personal data, you put into websites, and online shipping can be accessed and used against you.
The reality is that hiding your IP address is a sensible precaution in the age of easy identity theft and censorship and we recommend that everyone take precautions to protect their personal information when online. But, if you need further convincing, then there are several reasons why you should hide your IP address.
You Can Hide Your Location While Online
When you go online your internet protocol reveals the following information: your country, region, city, zip code, and longitude/latitude coordinates. Essentially your IP address all but give out your address. If you occupy a public position or have an abusive ex/stalker, then you can see how scary this situation is.
Luckily there are ways of removing your exact GPS coordinates from the internet. But the fact you even need to worry about it is a little disconcerting.
Get Around Restrictions Place On IP Addresses
Since, as we mentioned, your IP address does an excellent job of identifying your exact geological coordinates, it is also very good at placing restrictions on the information you can access depending on where you live in the world.
A good example would be countries like China or Russia blocking their citizens from accessing certain commercial services and websites. However, do not think these countries are the only guilty parties — even the United States prevents specific content from its citizens.
Since this age is known as the age of information, we do not think censoring people is appropriate just because a government system thinks it is dangerous.
However, governments are not the only ones putting blocks on certain activities. Some strict universities or academic settings block students from playing online games or going on certain websites. Considering the massive amount of money these students pay for tuition, we think they should get all the access they want.
Protect Yourself Against Cyber Criminal Attacks
If you become targeted by a cybercriminal, then your IP address makes it all too easy for the perpetrator to access your sensitive financial and personal information. However, if you change your IP number, then you can temporarily throw them off your trail. Other services, like a VPN, offer more secure browsing.
Get Around Possible IP Bans
If a website or service decides that you broke the rules or conditions of their website, then they can ban you from the service using your distinct IP address. Unfortunately, even if you were wrongly accused or mistaken, you cannot bargain with many of these websites — they can legally ban you without cause.
For example, if you try and access your Netflix account while you are abroad, you will find you access to all the shows you regularly watch will be banned. Luckily, if you hide your IP address, you can still circumnavigate these bans.
You Can Be Anonymous While Online
While we expect a certain degree of privacy in real life (we would understandably be a little disturbed if someone went through our mail to out personal info about us), we no longer get the same privilege online.
The United States Congress just recently passed a law that will allow internet service providers to sell all of your internet activity data directly to third-party bidders. While people love using the favorite excuse “well just stay off the internet,” this advice is impractical and unrealistic.
The reality is that most people, either because of work or social obligations, cannot get through the day without using the internet at least once. Since many people need to use the internet, we should take the necessary precautions for protecting everyone’s privacy while online.
When our government no longer protects our right to privacy, then we need to take it into our own hands.
Popular Methods of Hiding Your IP Address
Now that you know why hiding your IP address is essential even for your everyday internet browsing needs let us take a look at some of the various ways you can protect it. Keep in mind that not all these ways are foolproof. Some of them are only temporary solutions to a bigger problem.
Access A Virtual Private Network Software, Or VPN
When someone poses the question ‘how to hide your IP address?’, The first thing people usually think of is a VPN or a virtual private network. A VPN is necessarily a private server that allows you to bypass restricted content. It also helps you remain anonymous online.
When you sign up for a VPN service (they usually come with a monthly subscription fee), you are assigned a second IP address that your internet service provider does not know about when you access the internet. Though your original IP address will still be used to access the VPN, the second one will take over all your data.
However, keep in mind that VPN servers will slow down your internet speed a little. This because of the extra bypassing that the server needs to do to circumnavigate any security measures.
Use the TOR Encryption Network
The TOR network, perhaps better known as the Onion server, is a free alternative to the VPN. Like the VPN, the Onion network uses layers of encryption and multiple contact nods for sending and receiving information. The project is free because it relies on volunteer servers for posting the info.
When you send something over the TOR network, it ships itself to multiple contact nods before arriving at its final destination. At each bow, a layer of the encryption becomes peels back, kind of like an actual onion. Once the data is received, the user cannot trace it back to the original IP address.
However, the Onion system is not perfect. First, there is the fact that it only works for HTTP traffic. As such, your internet service provider will know you used it. What is more, there are instances of people intercepting Onion messages while they are in route.
Keep in mind also that the TOR Encryption Network takes a lot longer to send and receive information. This slowness comes from the fact that the server must ship the data to multiple points before it can send the message.
Get A Proxy Server While Online
Essentially, a proxy server mirrors your behavior online. This feature means that the proxy server acts a little bit like a go-between between you and the internet service provider.
For example, you might want to go to Facebook.com. You send this request to the server, which then asks on your behalf. So, while using a proxy server, your IP address is not visible, only your behavior — utterly unlinked to the actual person.
Generally speaking, proxy servers are not as all-encompassing as VPNs. A virtual private network will encrypt anything that comes in its path. Whereas a proxy server only encrypts the specific things you assign to it.
Use Your Mobile Data On Your Smartphone
This method is not a sustainable solution for hiding your IP address. But, when you use your mobile data you internet service provider cannot track you. So, if you fear someone you do not know compromised your security, then you can start a mobile hotspot and change your IP address.
So, this method only helps if you know your IP address is under attack. However, keep in mind that this method will cause expensive additional charges on your cell phone bill.
Force Your Internet Service Provider to Change Your IP Address
If all else fails when hiding your IP address from an attacker, then you can always change. You can do this either by official means — like contacting your service providers and asking they change it.
Or you can resort to private means. For example, if you unplug your modem, then your provider will automatically assign you a new number. Changing a static IP address is a lot harder than a dynamic one, but if you ask nicely enough, you should be fine during the process.
We hope this article helped you figure out how to hide your IP address. As you can see, there are no shortages of reasons for hiding your IP address. However, even if you do not think you will get much use out of the act, it is still important to try and do it.
The simple act of changing or hiding your IP address helps change the status quo that as consumers we are passive to the policy changes that affect their privacy. By protecting your internet protocol address, you send internet service providers a message that you do not want them to mess with any of your data. At the very least, this act of resistance goes a long way.