What is an IP address? And why should you hide it?
When you’re out in public, going to a coffee shop to see a friend or a convenience store for some supplies, you usually don’t have your phone number or home address glued to the back of your jacket. However, when you browse the internet, that’s what happens, except for your IP (internet protocol) address. Nothing usually happens when you wear your address on your jacket, but one moment something happens you want, you take a precautionary step. In the case of the IP address, that step hides it from the public.
What is an IP address?
The internet is a big place. That large place is filled with websites and connected computers that access and store them. To monitor computers on the internet, each connection is assigned an IP address. It’s like how you differentiate the house on the street by their numbers, except that the numbers are longer.
There are two main types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. The former was introduced back in the 80’s but is still used for most of internet traffic today. Due to the 32-bit format, only about 4 billion addresses are available. An IPv4 address usually looks like this: 126.96.36.199
IPv6 addresses were introduced as an answer to the number of available IPv4 addresses. They use 128-bit addresses, offering a large number of possible options – more will be needed for a long, long time. IPv6 addresses usually have the following form: 2001: 0db8: 0000: 0042: 0000: 8a2e: 0370: 7334
Instead of having to enter specific IP addresses into a web browser, something called the Domain Name System (DNS) exists, which translates URLs into IPs. For example, when you start a web browser and enter the URL (eg www.windowscentral.com), DNS identifies it, finds the website’s IP address and sends it back to be displayed on your screen. Www. Windowscentral. Com), DNS recognizes it, finds the site’s IP address and sends it back to be displayed on your screen.
Since most IP addresses are provided automatically when you connect to the internet, why should you care?
Why hide or hide your IP address?
Have you ever seen ads on either side of your browser that tell you that something is happening in your city? This is by no means a coincidence – and perhaps not just any application that seeks to confuse.
Your IP address may be used against you for these annoying advertisements, and it can also be used for more malicious purposes. Just like someone can spy on you when they know your home address, they can also track you (in the virtual sense) when they know your IP address.
Hiding your IP address can be a defensive tactic, but it can also be an annoying tactic. Is there a geographically restricted website or website you really want to see? Hiding your IP address will deceive the other party into thinking you are somewhere else – somewhere that would cross a geographic limit.
Here are a few basic reasons you might want to hide or hide your IP. There are a lot of reasons not listed here that we won’t get involved in (make sure you stay on the right side of things no matter what you do) and there are a few ways you can secure the address. Your real IP was not detected
Hide your IP address with a proxy
Using a proxy server is probably the easiest way to hide your IP address, especially if you just need to temporarily hide it.
Proxy servers act like masks when you are browsing the web. You send the request out, and the proxy intercepts and makes the request according to its own IP address. Interested parties can still see traffic between your computer and the proxy, so they’re best used when handling non-sensitive data.
There are a number of free proxies available, but in general they are not very reliable. If you decide to use a free proxy, make sure you don’t pass on any personal information and consider using a proxy checker, as a solution created by haschek solutions. Furthermore, a great article about Wired talks about proxy servers that are becoming increasingly insecure.
While free proxy servers are easy to find, easy to set up, and they will effectively conceal your IP, a better option is to use a reliable, paid proxy server. They usually come with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), so in that case it’s good to know the difference between the two services.
Hide your IP address with VPN
VPN works like a proxy in that it changes your IP address, but it also provides protection for all internet traffic from your computer. When the information leaves, it is routed to the VPN server, where it is sent with another IP – usually one of which is used by enough people to make it difficult to track.
Unlike a proxy, where there is weak or no encryption between your PC and the server, a VPN establishes a sort of encrypted tunnel between your device. At the time of your request for open internet access, it uses a different IP address and is generally one of the many requests.
The only problem with VPNs is that they are often expensive, especially for the good ones. Itching to watch a geo-limited video on YouTube may not guarantee the subscription price. However, in an age of rampant privacy and espionage, it’s never a bad idea to use a VPN.
There are certainly other options for hiding your IP address – like The Onion Router (Tor) – but those who need and deserve a post of their own to explain their complexity and legitimacy. If you have used Tor in the past, you can understand how it can be used perfectly for legal purposes. But it can also be easily used for illegal purposes.
Not everyone needs to hide their IP address, and the majority of internet users go about their business without worry. If you are more secure about security or privacy, hiding your IP address might be a welcome step. In that case, make smart decisions about which service you use – whether it’s a proxy or a VPN or both – and trust your instincts. If you don’t see low, low ratings and prices for a VPN, you may want to look elsewhere. Free proxy IP you found on some forums? Probably not the best idea.
Happy interneting, everyone.