How to Hide Your IP Address (and Why You Might Want To)
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
Image Credits: Elaine333/Shutterstock
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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.
What does a VPN hide? | NortonLifeLock
A virtual private network (VPN) can hide a user’s internal protocol address (IP address) and block their location and browser history, allowing them to share and receive information on public internet networks more privately.
Whether you’re searching something online or communicating via social media, you’re leaving digital footprints in the form of your browsing history, cookies, and cached data.
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the government, and other third parties can track what you search, visit, and download.
Even if you use a private browsing mode, your IP address can still be collected.
When you download and enable a VPN prior to browsing, a VPN can offer online privacy and increased security by helping hide your online identity and encrypting your traffic. Hackers and third parties will only be able to see the IP address of the remote VPN. This prevents them from accessing your location, browser history, or the personal information you may have sent or received during that browsing session.
Here are the seven main things that a VPN hides:
1. Search History
You can clear your cookies and search history from your browser. But chances are your ISP has recorded the websites that you’ve visited. VPNs can hide your search history and other browsing activity, like search terms, links clicked, and websites visited, as well as masking your IP address.
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Can you truly remove your search history?
No. You’re removing the file references from your directories, but your operating system won’t simultaneously erase this data. It only moves the information to a special area on your Mac or PC’s hard drive.
If you use a VPN each time you browse, third parties will only be able to see the IP address of the remote VPN. This disables them from pinpointing your location, ISP and, potentially, other personal information.
2. IP Address
Your IP address identifies your device on the Internet or a local network. It’s the key data that connects you to your location, ISP, and web search history.
IP addresses can share sensitive information about you that includes your physical location such as your city, state, ZIP code, and country. It can trace back to your home ISP, which could reveal your name, home address, phone number, and credit card numbers.
Instead of sending information directly from your IP address, the VPN server’s IP address is associated with your activity.
For example, if your VPN service provider has servers around the world, you could appear to be connecting to the internet from a different country.
3. Medical Diagnosis and Health Conditions
Medical providers often operate through private client portals. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has set standards in the exchange of protected health information (PHI). This is the diagnosis, procedures, and counsel between doctors, clients and medical facilities.
HIPPA requires healthcare facilities to operate on private networks. These secured portals encrypt your medical information from outside parties. VPN networks allow medical professionals and patients to safely access confidential medical information untampered.
4. Travel accommodations
Travel and airline websites associate the information that you’re researching with your IP address. When you visit online travel booking websites multiple times to find better deals, a cookie has likely already locked into a price.
A cookie is data sent from a user’s computer to a website. They can identify your past travel searches, online profiles, all the way to your home address. Any action like clicking on a link can trigger an “event. ” Marketers use analytics tracking tools to track website traffic and user behavior. It only takes a short amount of time for advertisers to bombard you with retargeting ads.
VPNs can block tracking technologies, allowing you to search travel websites anonymously and avoiding advertisers altogether.
We already mentioned that your IP address can identify your geolocation. Browsers and websites use this information to map web traffic from different cities, states, and countries.
For example, when you use Google Maps, you must enable your phone to detect your location. Websites use the same technology.
One side benefit of using a VPN is known as geo-spoofing. This means a VPN “fools” websites and other online services into thinking you’re in one location when you’re really in another.
This could provide access to geo-restricted services or help save money while doing online shopping. But remember to always check your service agreement rules and observe government laws and regulations.
6. Personally identifiable material
A VPN can hide your online identity by masking your IP address. It encrypts your location and the data you send and receive, helping protect your personal identifiable information (PII). This data can come in the form of your bank information, as well as Social Security and driver’s license numbers. If a hacker gains access to your computer, your PII is could be vulnerable via audio files, messages, and passwords.
Even secure websites can become vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Using a VPN network can increase your protection when you go online, from hackers and cyber thieves.
BitTorrents (torrents) are metadata files and folders that are shared and downloaded between users on a network. This gives users access to movies, music, and other forms of media content.
Though torrenting isn’t illegal, downloading copyrighted material like movies or songs is a violation. Since your ISP can track your activity, so can the government. Using a torrenting service without a VPN can sometimes lead to warning letters or even hefty fines from the government.
Even if performed legally, torrenting can be dangerous. Downloading unknown files can result in you downloading malware. These viruses can infect your computer and corrupt your files. VPNs can prevent online peers from seeing your IP address, which could help prevent hackers from singling you out.
How to choose a VPN
When choosing a VPN, consider your needs for the device. User-friendliness, speed, secure encryption, and price are all important factors to examine. You also want reliable customer service, should anything out of the ordinary occur.
Consider using a secure VPN network that provides powerful protection and is capable of connecting other devices in your home. Research online reviews, but be careful of sites that promote affiliate websites. You can also talk to your tech-savvy friends and get their insight on recommended products.
Most importantly, when purchasing a VPN, it’s best to buy from a software company that you trust. So, no matter where you are, you can search the internet knowing that your connections are safer.
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Frequently Asked Questions about hidden ip address
How do I make my IP private?
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
Does VPN hide IP address?
A VPN can hide your online identity by masking your IP address. It encrypts your location and the data you send and receive, helping protect your personal identifiable information (PII). … Using a VPN network can increase your protection when you go online, from hackers and cyber thieves.
Is hiding IP address illegal?
Is it illegal to hide my IP address? No, it’s not illegal to hide your IP address – or to use a VPN to do so. … Although some people may think that hiding your IP address is a sign that you’re doing something shady online, there are plenty of legitimate and totally legal reasons for it.Sep 21, 2021