What is an IP address?
The IP address is a tag that each device that is connected to a network that uses IP (Internet Protocol) gets to identify the network and the location of a device on the network.
By seeing the IP address, you can see who the host of service is (the computer) and trace it to its location (where precisely it is placed).
Two versions are currently in use – IPv4, and IPv6. The IPv4 is 32-bit and looks like this: 192.168.1.15. The IPv6 is 128-bit and looks like this: 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1.
Why would you like to hide it?
You would like to hide your IP address so your device (computer, smartphone, IoT, etc.) can’t be located by criminals, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), advertisers, the government, and everybody else who would like to track you. Let’s see why each of them would like to know it:
- Cyber-criminals. By knowing your IP address, they can focus their attack on it. If you are hosting a mail server, they can target it with a DDoS attack and overwhelm it with traffic.
- ISP. In some countries like in the USA, the service provider can limit your traffic towards some particular sites. You might be watching Netflix without problems but experiencing difficulties with HBO. You can hide your IP and make yourself untraceable. The ISP can also collect data on your internet usage, what pages you open, how often, etc. If you don’t want the ISP to have a record of the sites you are visiting, not showing your address might be a good option.
- Advertisers. Advertisers are tracking you in any possible way – cookies, through apps, and even on the browser itself. You can limit the tracking by using another IP address and not yours. That way, the data they will collect will be useless.
- Government. In some countries, all the traffic could be under a governmental monitor. In others, only in case, the government gets a special permit. In any case, using a hiding method will help you stay stealth.
- Evade IP address blacklists. If the IP address you got from your ISP is in a blacklist of addresses for some reason, you can evade the problems.
- No country limits. If you want to see content that is available only in another country (video, tv, pictures, etc.), you can change your IP address to another from that country and trick the system to get access.
If nobody knows your IP address, your privacy will be preserved. You will evade the upper points, and you can enjoy a *free browsing and use of the Internet.
*Disclaimer: In some countries, using some of the following methods might be illegal. Please check with your local authorities first.
How to hide your IP address?
You can hide your IP address using a VPN (a virtual private network), a proxy server, or through the Tor browser.
- VPN. There is plenty of different software available for your computer or smartphone device. The VPN will turn your public connection into a safe, private one. The new connection will be a tunnel that encrypts and mask your traffic. You will benefit from excellent privacy, easy-to-use service at an affordable price. The VPN will hide your IP address with just one click on the ON button.
- Proxy server. Just like the VPN, you are connecting through another server. It will be masked with the IP address of the proxy server. The big difference is that in this case, there is no encryption during the communication. It means that your traffic is not as safe as the VPN, and somebody might intercept in on the way. It still will hide it and you will be able to skip the geological content limits, but without the protection.
- Tor Browser. The Tor Browser is privacy-focused software that will lead your traffic through the Onion Router, passing it through different servers. It is a browser software that uses a method close to the proxy server method but with a lot more random servers. You can boost the security with a VPN on top for the most private experience.
So, now you know what an IP address is, why you would like to hide it, and how. If you decide to hide it, please make sure it is allowed by the law in your country first.