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How to Hide Your IP Address (and Why You Might Want To)
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Your IP address is like your public ID on the internet. Any time you do anything on the internet, your IP address lets servers know where to send back information you’ve requested. Many sites log these addresses, effectively spying on you, usually to deliver you more personalized ads to get you to spend more money. For some people, this is a significant issue, and there are ways to hide your IP address.
Why Would You Need To Hide Your IP Address?
One of the big reasons that people hide their IP addresses is so that they can download illegal material without being tracked. But there are a lot of other reasons you might want to hide it.
One reason is geographic restrictions and censorship. Some content is blocked by the government in certain areas, such as in China and the Middle East. If you can hide your real IP address and make it look like you’re browsing from another region, you can get around these restrictions and view blocked websites. Private companies also often geo-lock their content, making it unavailable in certain countries. For example, this happens a lot on YouTube, where some countries, like Germany, block copyrighted content outright, rather than using YouTube’s monetization model.
The other reason to hide your IP address is simply for more privacy and to prevent misuse of your personal information. Whenever you access a website, the server you connect to logs your IP address and attaches it to all the other data the site can learn about you: your browsing habits, what you click on, how long you spend looking at a particular page. They then sell this data to advertising companies who use it to tailor ads straight to you. This is why ads on the internet sometimes feel oddly personal: it’s because they are. Your IP address can also be used to track your location, even when your location services are turned off.
Here I’ve done a basic IP lookup, which returned my location down to the area of the city in which I live. Anyone with your IP address can do this, and while it won’t give out your actual home address or name to everyone, anyone with access to your ISPs customer data can find you fairly easily.
The spying and selling of user data aren’t limited to websites either. Under US law, your Internet Service Provider (Comcast, Verizon, etc. ) has the right to collect information about you without your permission, just like any website owner does. While they all claim they don’t sell customer data, it is certainly worth a lot of money to ad companies, and there is nothing legally stopping them. This is a major problem, as half of the people on the internet in the US only have one choice of ISP, so for many, it’s either be spied on or go without internet.
So How Do I Hide My IP Address?
The two primary ways to hide your IP address are using a proxy server or using a virtual private network (VPN). (There’s also Tor, which is great for extreme anonymization, but it’s very slow and for most people isn’t necessary. )
A proxy server is an intermediary server through which your traffic gets routed. The internet servers you visit see only the IP address of that proxy server and not your IP address. When those servers send information back to you, it goes to the proxy server, which then routes it to you. The problem with proxy servers is that many of the services out there are pretty shady, spying on you or inserting ads into your browser.
VPN is a much better solution. When you connect your computer (or another device, such as a smartphone or tablet) to a VPN, the computer acts as if it’s on the same local network as the VPN. All your network traffic is sent over a secure connection to the VPN. Because your computer behaves as if it’s on the network, this allows you to securely access local network resources even when you’re on the other side of the world. You’ll also be able to use the Internet as if you were present at the VPN’s location, which has some benefits if you’re using public Wi-Fi or want to access geo-blocked websites.
When you browse the web while connected to a VPN, your computer contacts the website through the encrypted VPN connection. The VPN forwards the request for you and forwards the response from the website back through the secure connection. If you’re using a USA-based VPN to access Netflix, Netflix will see your connection as coming from within the USA.
RELATED: What Is a VPN, and Why Would I Need One?
Okay, How Do I Get a VPN?
Now that you’ve decided that you need a VPN, it’s time to figure out how to get one. There are lots of options, including setting up your own VPN, which is very complicated, or you can even setup your own home VPN—though that doesn’t work if you’re actually at home.
Your best, and easiest option, is to simply get yourself a VPN service from a solid VPN provider. You can find services that range in price from completely free for limited use, like Tunnelbear, to blazing fast and works on all your devices for a small monthly fee like ExpressVPN. We’ve talked before about how to choose the best VPN service for your needs, and that article gives you a lot more information on the topic.
Installing a VPN is as simple as heading to the signup page, downloading the client app onto your device—Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, and Android are all supported by most of the best VPN providers—installing the app, and then logging in. Press the connect button, and you’re magically connected to a VPN on a server somewhere else in the world.
RELATED: How to Choose the Best VPN Service for Your Needs
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Three Ways to Hide Your IP Address – AVG
What is an IP address?
An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a string of characters that uniquely identifies your device on the web. Without this identifier, website servers wouldn’t know where to send the data that’s rendered as a website in your internet browser.
Just like your postcode, your IP address was created by a central authority — the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Once created, the IANA assigns each IP address to one of five Regional Internet Registries (RIR), which hands them out in turn to internet service providers in their region.
At the moment, there are two versions of IP addresses called IP version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6). Why do things need to be so complicated? Well, IPv4 addresses are just 32 bits long, which means there can only ever be around 4. 3 billion IPv4 addresses.
By September 2015, with just about everything connected to the internet, four out of five RIRs had completely run out of IPv4 addresses! At 128 bits, IPv6 addresses are the answer: 340 282 366 920 938 463 463 374 607 431 768 211 456 addresses means we won’t be running out any time soon.
Why hide your IP address?
Just as Amazon needs your address to send you a package, servers around the world need your IP address to send you data. That means your IP address needs to be public — any website you visit must be able to access it.
You can test this out for yourself by searching “what’s my IP” on Google. But who cares if someone knows this random string of characters? Try searching “where am I” instead and you’ll begin to understand the problem.
All around the world there are free and paid subscription geolocation databases that match IP addresses to a specific location. Accuracy can range from country level all the way down to within a few houses. That’s no problem if it’s just a website trying to serve you the right language, but governments and companies with questionable motives also have access to this location data.
See for yourself how easy it is. If you have an internet connection there are a number of public sites that can reveal you IP address location like HMA! IP Info or Much worse, your IP address is scattered around the web like a signature. Almost every site you visit will log your IP address, along with the pages you requested and the information you sent and received.
If a tyrannical government, litigious record company or pesky advertiser matches your IP address to your actual identity, which is all too easy, it’s open season on your online activity.
So if you care about internet privacy and anonymity, blocking your IP address is the very first thing you should do.
The best ways to hide your IP
Use a proxy server
A proxy server works by sitting between you and your final destination on the web, passing data back and forth as needed. When you connect through a proxy, you’re effectively rerouting your traffic through another computer before landing at your intended website.
As a result, the proxy will mask your IP address with its own, so those tricky website server logs will never know you’ve been there. And if anyone thinks to check the logged IP address against a geolocation database, all they’ll see is the location of the proxy server, which might be on the other side of the world to your own device.
However, there’s a catch. Most proxies don’t encrypt your data when connecting to a regular HTTP website. It’s more difficult, but powerful actors like governments can still figure out who you are. And when they do, everything you’ve been up to is visible.
For most people though, there’s a bigger issue: proxies are slow. Very slow. You can bypass basic geo-restrictions, but that’s close to useless if you spend more time gazing at a spinning wheel than catching up on your favorite YouTube content.
If that’s no problem, you can use a proxy by visiting a trustworthy web proxy site or by configuring a proxy server in your browser settings.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, works much like a proxy server — it’s the middleman between your device and a final web server. Once again, your IP address is masked by the IP of the VPN server you’re connected to.
But unlike a proxy, any decent VPN will also encrypt your traffic before it even leaves your computer. If someone does work out your real IP address, it won’t help them much — the sites you visited and what you did there will be hidden in a long string of meaningless characters.
Even better, when switched on, VPN services will anonymize all network activity from your device — not just your browser activity. So whether you’re gaming, torrenting, or using an email or photos app, your IP address is hidden and the data exchanged is encrypted. You can also hide your IP adress on mobile devices with a VPN service for Android or iPhone.
Though it is possible to configure some software with a proxy, it is usually a nightmare to setup and one misstep could leave you unprotected. For ease-of-use and top-level security, it’s difficult to beat a VPN.
One final option to block your IP address from prying eyes is Tor. Tor stands for “The Onion Router”, and with good reason. When you connect to the web using Tor, your traffic is wrapped up in an encrypted bundle and routed through several servers on its journey, with layers of encryption added at each stage like the layers of an onion.
Each server can only decrypt enough to know where to send your request next. And no single point on your journey knows where the request came from — even the first stop can’t be sure it is the first stop! It’s like a drunken man stumbling all around town, with no idea where he came from by the end of his journey.
All in all, it’s an incredibly secure system, which is why it’s favored by journalists and activists whose online activity could destroy lives.
Tor may seem safe, but every alphabet soup agency has active nodes hoping to read the exit of your encryption
But even Tor isn’t perfect: by the time your traffic hits the exit node — the last step before landing at your destination server — any encryption added by Tor is removed. If it wasn’t, there’d be no way for the final website server to understand the request. Though your IP address will be hidden by bouncing around the network, any unencrypted material in your request can be read.
As a result, law enforcement agencies like the NSA and FBI, and even more troubling agencies abroad, have been accused of setting up dozens of Tor exit nodes. As a tool so often used to commit cybercrime, you can bet Tor is a major target for intelligence services.
More importantly, though Tor can be unbeatable secure, it’s just not necessary for the average web user. It may even give a false sense of security to those without an understanding of the underlying technology.
If your online activism is putting your life at risk, we recommend using Tor. Otherwise, a VPN is probably all you need to hide your IP.
How do I Hide My IP Address? – Avast
What is an IP address, anyway?
An IP address is a series of numbers that identifies your device or network on the internet. Activity on the internet is a series of two-way communications between clients — software, such as a web browser, that requests data — and servers, which reply to clients with responses. Every client has an IP address that tells servers who is making the request.
So, it’s easy to understand what an IP address is and also why they’re important. IP addresses let search engines like Google know where to send the results of a search, help websites know who’s visiting their site, and make sure you receive the emails that are addressed to you.
In other words, IP addresses undergird how the internet works in general. Thankfully, it’s very easy to find your IP address if you need this information.
Three ways to hide your IP
Now, let’s take a look at three tools you can use to hide your IP address. Each offers its own blend of privacy, security, and practicality.
1. Use a VPN
A VPN is an intermediary server that encrypts your connection to the internet — and it also hides your IP address. A VPN encrypts all your traffic, not only in your browser but also in other apps, and then passes traffic onward to its destination. They’re a popular privacy solution, and as such, there’s a strong incentive for VPN providers to design tools that are as easy to use as they are secure.
Here’s how to hide your IP address with a VPN: Simply download a VPN such as Avast SecureLine VPN, log in, and turn it on to protect both your IP address and your internet traffic.
How does a VPN hide your IP address?
When you’re using a VPN, your IP address is hidden because your traffic takes a detour through the VPN server. When your traffic — sites visited, online apps used, uploads, downloads, etc. — reaches its destination, it does so under a “virtual” IP address assigned by the VPN.
There’s only one party who’ll be able to see your actual IP address: your VPN provider. That’s why you should choose a trusted VPN provider that isn’t going to keep logs on your activity.
Avast SecureLine VPN is a safe, secure, and convenient way to mask your IP address. It’ll hide your online activity from your internet service provider (ISP), employer, school, and anyone else on your network, including a snooping cybercriminal. And we never keep any logs on sites you visit, apps you use, or content you view.
2. Use Tor
Comprising thousands of volunteer-run server nodes, Tor is a free network that conceals your identity online via multiple layers of encryption. When you access Tor, typically by using the free Tor Browser, your traffic is relayed and encrypted through a series of three relay nodes, each of which decrypts one layer of encryption to learn the identity of the next node. When your traffic leaves the final node, it’s fully decrypted and sent to its destination.
The relay system hides your IP address, but not without cost: because Tor’s encryption system is so thorough, it takes a long time for your traffic to complete its journey. You’ll be sacrificing browsing speed for Tor’s anonymity. This is a worthwhile tradeoff when it really counts, such as for whistleblowers and political dissidents. But if you’re simply seeking to hide your IP address, when comparing Tor and a VPN, you’ll find a VPN to be a far more convenient and faster solution.
How does Tor hide your IP address?
When you use Tor, each relay node along your traffic’s pathway through the Tor network knows only the IP address of the node immediately before and after it. Even if an attacker manages to intercept your traffic while it travels from the final node to your destination server, it’d be very difficult at that point to parse your original IP address.
3. Use a proxy
A proxy server handles your internet traffic on your behalf. A proxy sits in front of a client or network of clients, forwarding requests while also receiving and delivering responses from servers. You may need to manually adjust your device’s proxy settings if you want to use a proxy.
Unlike a VPN, most proxies won’t encrypt your traffic, and they also won’t hide your IP address from anyone who can intercept your traffic on its way from your device to the proxy. Proxy servers, especially free web-based proxies, tend to be less reliable than VPNs. That’s why proxies are best used as a quick, temporary solution as opposed to a long-term privacy plan.
How does a proxy hide your IP address?
Some proxy servers can mask your IP address with a fake one. You’ll appear as though you’re based in the same country as your proxy server. If you’re using a proxy to hide your IP, be aware that not all proxies offer equal protection.
Transparent proxies conceal neither your IP address nor your use of a proxy.
Anonymous proxies hide your IP address but not your use of a proxy.
High anonymity (or elite) proxies hide both your IP address as well as your use of a proxy.
Some sites or content platforms may block traffic from known proxies, so you’ll have to be careful if you’re trying to use a proxy to access media.
Why should I hide my IP address?
Your IP address identifies you online, and in today’s data-driven world, your online activity is very valuable. It’s important to hide your IP address so that you can regain control over your privacy while you’re online. Among other sensitive info, your IP can reveal your shopping and buying habits as well as your physical location. So why hide your IP? You’ve got plenty to gain, and not much to lose.
Hide your IP to browse anonymously
Advertisers and marketers can track you across the internet and analyze your browsing habits with the goal of marketing to you more effectively. Unfortunately, even hiding your IP address won’t stop them, because tracking cookies also deliver this information — which is why you should regularly take the time to delete cookies from your browser.
To take private internet browsing to the next level, consider a dedicated private browser like Avast Secure Browser. It includes a range of advanced anti-tracking features to let you use the internet without leaving any clues behind that companies and individuals can use to follow your activity.
Hide your IP to shield your location
Hide your IP address behind another IP in a different part of the world and no one will know where you really are. This includes websites and services that host geo-restricted content. For example, if you’re traveling abroad and want to access movies or TV shows that are available only for your home country, you can use a VPN or proxy to unblock that website with a false IP address in the correct location.
Many IP addresses are linked to a real-world address, or at least to a general location. If you’re frequently using false IP addresses to change your online location, no one will be able to figure out where you actually are.
Can my IP address ever truly be hidden?
While it’s not possible to hide your IP address from everyone, you can achieve an effective level of privacy sufficient for everyday needs. With a VPN, the only entity that can link your online activity to your IP address is your VPN provider itself. This is why it’s so important to choose a VPN provider with a reliable reputation for security, and one that doesn’t keep logs of user activity.
Your ISP can see the type, timing, and amount of traffic you’re sending to the VPN server, but they won’t know the specifics. The same goes for Tor. Many proxies don’t encrypt your traffic, and so your ISP will be able to access your activity if it wants to while you’re using a proxy. And, as mentioned earlier, all the websites and services you use while connected to a VPN will see only the VPN’s IP address, not yours.
The primary purpose for hiding your IP address is to protect your online activity and location from third-party observers: websites, advertisers who use ad tracking techniques, and cybercriminals. When your safety and privacy is at risk, it’s important to be proactive.
What is IP masking?
IP masking is the technique of concealing your IP address by adopting a false one. This is how hiding your IP address works — they’re two ways to refer to the same thing. If you’re interested in learning how to mask your IP address, you can apply the same techniques described in this article. After all, the only way to hide your IP address and still use the internet is to mask it behind another one.
Your traffic is always going to need an IP address online, since that’s how websites and services know who’s making the requests and where to send the replies. Clients use IP addresses to reach servers, and servers use IP addresses to send requested data back to the correct client.
That request-and-response system is part of the TCP/IP model, which governs how devices on the internet communicate with one each another. IP addresses are classified in a variety of ways: IPv4 vs. IPv6, public vs. local, and static vs. dynamic IP addresses. Read more about IP addresses here.
Hide your IP the easy way with a VPN
Avast SecureLine VPN lets you hide your IP address by choosing from any one of our blazing-fast servers located in dozens of countries all over the world. With your online activity securely encrypted and our no-logging policy, you’ll be able to easily access blocked content, disrupt tracking techniques, and browse the internet freely, with complete confidence in your online privacy.
Frequently Asked Questions about how to conceal ip address
Can you really hide your IP address?
Use a VPN. A virtual private network, or VPN, works much like a proxy server — it’s the middleman between your device and a final web server. Once again, your IP address is masked by the IP of the VPN server you’re connected to. … You can also hide your IP adress on mobile devices with a VPN service for Android or iPhone …Aug 26, 2021
How can I hide my IP address for free?
Three ways to hide your IPUse a VPN. A VPN is an intermediary server that encrypts your connection to the internet — and it also hides your IP address. … Use Tor. Comprising thousands of volunteer-run server nodes, Tor is a free network that conceals your identity online via multiple layers of encryption. … Use a proxy.Apr 8, 2020
How do I protect my IP address?
Android:Under Settings, click Wi-Fi.Clock Network Name.Choose Modify Network.Click on Advanced.Click on Manual.Enter in your Hostname and Proxy Port.Don’t forget to click Save!Sep 10, 2021