It is essential to stay safe while browsing the internet. The internet can be a double-edged sword. As much as it is useful, it is also a place for entities with malicious intents. For the safety of the user, it is a good practice to hide IP addresses while browsing. Changing one’s IP address by requesting a new one from the ISP or using the incognito mode in the browser are not effective ways to hide one’s IP. Before getting into the details of hiding my IP and location best, let us see what an IP address is.
What is an IP address?
IP address stands for Internet Protocol address. It is a numerical combination that is used to identify a device that accesses the internet uniquely. Just as an email id allows others to communicate with the person associated with the id, the IP address allows devices to communicate through the internet. Computers, routers, and all other devices which can be connected to the internet contain a unique IP address.
Websites can track their visitors using their IP addresses. Due to this, it is considered personal information. In some regions, there are strong legislations against organizations misusing the citizens’ IP addresses.
As it can be used to identify the user, one should change or hide the IP address.
How an IP system works
To know how to hide IP addresses, one must understand how IP system works. An IP address consists of two components – a local IP and a remote IP. The local IP is the number that the LAN uses to identify the device. On the other hand, the remote IP identifies the device on the internet. Both the addresses together form the IP address.
When the user wants to visit a website, the device controller receives the request. Through the local address, the router recognizes the device and sends a request to the internet to retrieve the data. When the information is available, the router sends it to the device that requested it. The IP address plays a central role here as the device controller uses it to identify which device sent the request.
How does a VPN hide your IP address?
VPN or virtual private network is one of the effective ways to hide IP addresses. Let us see how a VPN is useful.
A VPN application assigns a virtual IP address to the device. All the traffic from the device, such as the websites accessed, uploads and downloads, applications used, etc.…, travels through the virtual IP address.
The real IP address is visible only to the VPN provider. Thus, it is highly recommended to use a trusted VPN application where there is no risk of the provider misusing the user data. Also, VPN is often considered as one of the safest ways to hide IP addresses while browsing.
How does a proxy hide your IP address?
Another method to hide IP addresses is through a proxy server. Proxies are a quick and temporary solution. They act as a middleman between the device and the internet.
A proxy server masks the real IP address with a fake one to make the user appear as if he is based in the same location as that of the proxy server. There are proxy servers of different types.
- Transparent proxies do not hide the IP address or use.
- Anonymous proxies hide the IP address alone.
- Elite proxies can safely hide both – the IP address and the use of a proxy.
Why hide IP address – different ways to do so
Listed below are some ways to hide the user IP address – through VPNs, proxies, and so on. What are the benefits that one can expect from this action?
- Hiding location
Online services are always looking to track users through their IP addresses. If the user does not wish random people on the internet to see location through their IP address, they may hide IP address.
- Free internet
Internet is not a free resource in some parts of the world. In some other parts, users are subject to surveillance. One may change their IP address to bypass these restrictions and access the internet freely.
- Better online experience
In some cases, an online service may recognize request patterns and throttle the bandwidth. One can enjoy streaming/gaming services better if one’s IP is hidden. For instance, if a user rotates their IP address through various Residential proxies, the service cannot recognize that the requests are from the same user, and thus, will not attempt throttling the bandwidth.
- Online privacy
There is no need for any business, service, or individual on the internet to know what actions you are performing online. Hiding one’s IP address is a step towards achieving user privacy while surfing the web. Some regions have strict regulations about organizations misusing the user IP addresses. But it doesn’t guarantee protection from online services or entities that collect data secretly. Also, in places where the government does not offer free access to the internet, surveillance might be an issue. Hiding one’s IP address offers complete privacy and anonymity.
- ISP to change IP address960
One may contact the internet service provider (ISP) to get a new IP address. It is generally dynamic – which means that it can change once in a while. The user who wishes to do so must have account information and the existing IP address. Dynamic addresses are more common because IP addresses are usually recycled from the limited pool. An address that never changes is called a static IP address. Those who wish to avail of a static IP address can do so by paying an extra fee and going through the application process.
- NAT firewall
NAT stands for Network Address Translation. Using a NAT firewall, many devices can connect to the network. All the devices carry the same public IP address but a unique Private IP address. It is a win-win because, on the one hand, it saves address space, and on the other, the devices are protected from potentially dangerous unsolicited communication from the internet.
Most users who connect to the internet through a wireless router have a NAT firewall. Here, requests and data packets that do not contain a private IP address to which they can be sent are discarded. If there is any communication from the internet that is not a response to a request from the device’s private IP, it is blocked.
- Network to change the IP address
Every time the user changes networks, the IP address changes. So, if the user feels that there are chances of the IP address being blocked, tracked, or compromised, it is advisable to switch networks.
Free public wi-fi networks or other open networks tend to be placed for hackers to use the lack of encryption to their advantage. Networks that need a password to connect to are considered safer than public wi-fi hotspots.
There are several ways to hide one’s IP address and maintain anonymity while surfing the web. Every internet user needs to be aware of these methods as they will come in handy in many situations. Especially, those who travel a lot for work must know ways to hide IP addresses.