One thing you can easily do online that is not so legal in real life is hide your identity. To do this you must hide your IP address. This is useful for many things, especially if you want to be more secure and have privacy.
We are not talking about changing your name on social media here. That would only protect you perhaps from the human eye. If you really want to change your identity online, you will want to hide from trackers and complex algorithms. And the only way to achieve this is by hiding your IP address.
How to hide your IP address while browsing
For most of us this may sound very complicated, but don’t worry. Here we will take a look at the topic, explaining what an IP address is, why you should consider changing it, and how to do it.
What is an IP address?
I will try to explain you about IP addresses as simple as possible. Because I’ve seen pretty confusing explanations, and I want to avoid that here.
Remember my comparison of “the two worlds” at the beginning? Well, we can use the same terminology to explain IP addresses.
Just like you have your home address, your computer connected to the Internet has its own virtual address: the IP address. While receiving deliveries and parking tickets to your home, an IP address is used for communication between devices on a network.
To receive a single bit of information from the Internet, you must tell the sender where to send that information. For example, when you opened this article, you told our server that you needed information from it. Your IP address serves as a guide for our server and tells it where to deliver the information you have requested. In this case, to your device.
These addresses are not just some random numbers. Each individual IP address is a 32-bit mathematically programmed number assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a division of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). These entities are responsible for finding a home for your computer on the Internet, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
That’s basically the whole concept of IP addresses, explained in the simplest way possible.
Why should you consider hiding your IP address?
If you already have your reasons for hiding your IP address, continue later, I will not delve into your motivations. But if you still can’t make up your mind, I’ll try to demonstrate a few points as to why you should.
There are two main reasons. Privacy & Security.
First of all, if hackers and other shady people don’t know your IP address, they won’t be able to send you that unwanted guest they created. It’s much more difficult (though possible) for hackers to install malicious software on your operating system if you hide your IP address. Therefore, hiding your IP address adds another layer to your overall Internet security.
Another concern that has been on the rise lately is your privacy. You have probably heard stories about spying on the Internet, government agencies, data collection, and other things. Well some of these stories are true, some are just conspiracy theories.
For example, search engines and social media collect your personal data to show you targeted ads. Your chances of escaping from that and trading entirely online are slim. But you can lower the level of exposure by hiding your IP address.
Of course, you may have other reasons for hiding your IP address. As I said, I will not delve into them. Just a friendly tip: if you want to play hacker and get involved in illegal stuff online, you better do some ethical hacking. They will pay you anyway, but you will sleep better at night.
Hide your IP address with a VPN
And finally, we have come to the point of this article. After a brief introduction on IP addresses and your Internet security, I will finally show you how to hide that 32-bit number; and sabotage those you think are behind you.
There are several ways to change or hide your IP address, but I’ll explore just one here. I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time on you already. If you want to know about other methods, I will list them below. If you want the easiest and simplest solution then stick with this one. And it is using a VPN.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that allows you to connect to the Internet through a ‘security tunnel’ (server) created by a VPN provider. This type of connection is completely encrypted, which means that no one has direct access to it. Not even your VPN provider.
How a VPN works
When you “normally” connect to the Internet, you first connect to the server of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), which then connects you to a website that you want to visit. As I tried to explain to you above.
On the other hand, when using a VPN, you first connect to your VPN provider’s server, which then redirects you to the desired web address. This way, instead of exposing your real IP address, you will display the IP address of your VPN server.
There are dozens of great free or paid VPN services to use. But of course, using a VPN comes with a price. And I’m not talking about the subscription. The first thing you will notice is that your internet connection is now slower than it used to be. That is completely normal. After all, you are using external servers from perhaps even another part of the world.
Also, it won’t make your computer 100% secure against hacker attacks. No service or application will. Especially if we take into account that the communication between your computer and the Internet still happens in a straight line, only with different servers.
And of course, there is no app that can stop you from shooting your head when downloading content from that strange email you just received. Not even your antivirus.
There are numerous ways to change your IP address in addition to using VPN. But these methods are more complicated or simply unreliable. But if you want more options, here they are.
Some sites offer to change your IP address automatically and on sight. But these sites are not trustworthy as you don’t know who you are exposing your IP address to. So if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try some of those sites, but I vote against.
You can also change your IP address by fiddling with the proxy settings. But that’s a risky move, as one wrong step can damage your internet connection and perhaps cause problems with your provider.
And finally, there is Tor. You’ve probably heard of Tor, and now you’re thinking about the terrors of the Dark Web. And I don’t blame you, the Dark Web is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Tor. But Tor is a legitimate service and it is completely legal and safe to use as long as you don’t swim in muddy waters.
In the end, the only way to be completely safe online is to turn off your modem and stay offline. No matter how strict the precautions you take, there is still a slim chance that something bad will happen.
But with minor adjustments to your online actions and activities, such as hiding your IP address, you can minimize this possibility. At the very least, you won’t feel like they’re constantly being watched.
What do you think of all this about privacy on the Internet? Are you going to hide your IP address while browsing the Internet? Let us know in the comments below.