One piece of information you need to guard is your IP address. It connects your devices to a network every time you interact online and exchange information. An IP address is like your home address as it helps identify the devices you use when browsing the internet.
From the moment you visit a website, it possibly stores information about you and identifies your IP address. Although everyone requires an IP address to browse the internet, you can still hide yours when visiting unknown websites or those you don’t want to have any information about you.
You might wonder how it is possible to visit a website without revealing your IP address. One way is to ask a third party to get the content on your behalf and deliver them to you. There are many tools available for this exact purpose. For instance, you can use the Tor network or use a VPN application. In both cases, your computer connects to a private network. The exit node requests contents and delivers them to you in this network. So your IP address is hidden, and the exit node’s IP address will be revealed instead.
In this article, we are reviewing the top reasons why you need to hide your IP address from unknown sources:
Prevents Sites from Tracking Your Online Activity
One major reason to mask your IP address is to prevent websites from tracking you. No matter which website you access, it is likely that the server collects your IP address and links that to the page you have visited. Nowadays, websites use many ready-to-use external services and rely on several external trackers to analyze visitors. This is inevitable! They need to track their traffic to provide high-quality service and get notified if there is an attack going on. Also, in many cases, the website owner relies on other services to perform analytics on their behalf. So even the owner might not know what information the third-party libraries are collecting. Even if the website claims not directly collect data, its external services have access to your IP address.
Another reason to hide your IP address is that it allows you to unlock the content. Some web services adopt geo-blocking measures to limit IPs that originate from certain countries. The reason why they claim to do this is to save bandwidth and resources. For instance, the owner might only take profit from a specific country. Or the advertisement service they use only pays for visitors of particular regions. Geo-blocking is common on streaming services. By nature, streaming requires a lot of high-quality bandwidth, so it makes sense for the owner to provide the service where they have a profitable return. In this case, you may use a private network to a computer located in a region where the content is available. This way, you can access the restricted content as a local user.
Deters Marketers from Obtaining Information from You
When you hide your IP address, it ensures that marketing agents have a hard time tracking you! The fact is that marketers rely on various methods to uncover more information about visitors (such as advertisements, surveys, short links, and email tracking). So they can display relevant advertisements to the users (the ones that end up buying products). A hidden IP prevents them from creating a profile about you. It is worth pointing out that IP address is only one method to identify a user. Browser fingerprints, browsing history, stored data in cookies, and internal storage of your browser are all methods for uniquely identifying a user. Using private browsing mode along with a VPN service is a good practice to hide the user’s identity. Make sure to close the private browsing mode often to prevent data collection. Private browsing works like a clean profile. Similar to normal browsing, websites can store data locally. But when you close all the private windows, the browser exists from incognito mode and clears all the storage associated with the session. Next time you open a new private window, the browser acts like a clean profile once again.
Offers Full Incognito Browsing
As stated earlier in this article, many people prefer to browse the internet fully incognito. This only makes sense when you also hide your IP address. Even if you clear the basic tracking, history, and cookies from your browser, still the remote server obtains your IP address. To hide your identity, you need to hide your IP address and use alternative means to get remote content.
Get Past Network Firewalls
There are likely to be some network restrictions when browsing the internet at school, the library, or your workplace. This is why it makes sense to hide your IP address to circumvent the firewall. However, you might not be able to get past every firewall.
Prevent the Internet Service Provider from Keeping Track of You
In addition to the above, you must hide your IP address if you want to make sure that your internet service provider does not track your online browsing activity.
How to Hide my IP Address
There are many ways to hide your IP address. If you are not willing to educate yourself, it is recommended to use the Tor browser. This browser has many built-in features to hide the user’s identity. If you still prefer to use your browser, there are some browser extensions such as Proxy Client for Onion that connect you to the Tor network.
Another method is to buy a remote computer (VPS: virtual private server) and use a secure SSH connection with dynamic port forwarding. This method protects your internet traffic from being monitored by the VPN service provider.
Also, many browser extensions provide free browser-level or system-level remote access. For instance, VPN Master - Free HTTP and SOCKS Proxies tries to find a SOCKS proxy server and connects your browser to this service. This is browser-level protection, meaning only your browser’s traffic passes through the remote server. On the other hand, extensions like Free OpenVPN Server Finder provide system-wide protection.
Now that you know just how important it is to hide your IP address, it is about time that you used a VPN to protect yourself while using the internet.