While you are on the internet, your IP address will inform all of the servers your connection passes through where to send data back to.
More and more sites log these IP addresses which in the most basic form amounts to spying on you.
From your internet activity, they can target you with ads, and over time they can build up a personal profile or digital footprint of your browsing habits.
There are several ways which you can hide your IP address, and each comes with their own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take at why you need to hide your IP address, and how the different ways can help you to achieve this.
Why People Need to Hide Their IP Address?
People hide their IP addresses for many different reasons, and the main one being so they can download illegal or copyrighted material. Here are a few other reasons why it is useful to hide your IP address.
Geographic restrictions and censorship. Content or internet access can be restricted in certain areas around the globe.
Even some websites can be blocked in Australia such as some torrent sites you are unable to access. In most cases, countries like China and the Middle East are the biggest culprits of censorship being imposed.
Streaming sites also geo-block their content for specific regions. US Netflix and the BBC iPlayer from the UK being two of the better-known streaming services which block users from other countries.
YouTube content can also be blocked, and already Germany does this with content it thinks is copyrighted.
The biggest reason you need to hide your IP address is for security and privacy. Aside from the footprint, you leave when online, and the misuse of your personal information.
Sites can tell how long you have been there, and all of this gives online marketers more details on what to send you regarding advertisements.
IP addresses can even be used to track your location if you have location services turned on or off.
One of the most significant reasons you need to hide your IP address is because of data retention by your ISP.
They log all that you do and then retain this data for an extended period. The longer you spend online, the more information your ISP gets about you.
How Do I Hide My IP Address?
There are basically four ways you can hide your IP address. But first, it helps if you know what your IP address is. How do you find your IP address on a computer?
There are a couple of ways, but the easiest way to find your internal IP address is as follows:
- Click on the start menu
- Click the Network & Internet icon
- Click on your connection type and then select the name of your connection
- Scroll down to properties, and you can see your internal IP address
To find your external (outside your router) address and the one that everyone can see. Head to Google and type “IP Leak Test” and select any of the sites that are shown.
These quickly show you the IP address the world can see, and also why it is crucial to keep an anonymous IP.
The Best Way to Hide My IP Address
Using a VPN service is the best way to hide your IP. Here is a quick overview of what these services do:
- Hide user IP addresses
- Encrypt internet traffic
- You can download torrents safely
- VPN’s allow you to access geo-blocked content such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer among others.
A virtual private network will take your IP address and assign a new one which hides the original one.
Two of the best available for Australian users are NordVPN which is ranked very highly and offers high levels of security and privacy, but it does suffer in download speeds to Australia, and although it is located outside of any 5-eyes jurisdiction, it maintains links with a US-based company.
The recommended VPN for Australian users to hide their online activity is ExpressVPN. This VPN makes every step easy from sign up to using it in operation. Here are the sign-up steps required.
- Choose a plan
- Enter your email address
- Select the payment method
- Receive confirmation email
- Download client software and install
- Enter activation code
That is all the steps you need to start surfing anonymously, and from start to finish can take less than 30-minutes.
Using a Free Proxy to Keep an Anonymous IP Address
Using a proxy service can be good things to use in specific circumstances. Data is sent to a proxy server which then makes requests on the internet on behalf of the user.
This will mask your IP address although your real IP address can still be seen by anyone before your data reaches the proxy, such as your internet service provider.
Compared to a VPN, a proxy service is slower, and it doesn’t encrypt your data or remove any digital markers showing where it originated from.
A proxy is an easy way how to mask IP address, but it shouldn’t be used when attempting to download any torrents.
Using TOR as an IP Address Hider
TOR – Onion Router is a free client (TOR browser) that connects you anonymously to a group of servers. This is the closest way how to hide IP address and stay anonymous while you are online.
You might have heard of the TOR network by another name because it is known as the Dark or Deep web and is used by people who wish to really hide their online activity.
Unfortunately, this methods is very slow compared to a regular VPN connection because your connections are routed much further than usual.
Hide Your Location in a Coffee Shop
One final way you can hide your IP address when connected to the internet is by going to a coffee shop or another place that offers public Wi-Fi.
This works because your IP address doesn’t follow you from your home, and when you are connected using the hotspots, you will assume the IP address given by the public router.
This method though is unreliable and insecure because it is rife for hackers or anyone trying to snoop on connections. It is also one of the main areas where VPN’s are used to secure a person’s mobile connection.
It is growing ever more important hide your IP address and your geographical location while on the internet because it is the last line of defence for protecting your online privacy.
There is so much information gathering from different sources, and to end users, there is little or no benefit.
From the above ways of being able to mask and hide your IP address, it is highly advisable for any Australian internet user to consider using a VPN provider.