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Do I Need to Hide My IP Address? | McAfee Blogs
What is an IP Address?
Think of this as your address on the internet — a location where you receive mail and other data such as webpages, images, and mesages. Your IP address is made up of a string of four groups of numbers, such as 192. 172. 33. 1, which identifies both the network you are on and the device you are using. With these two pieces of information networks and websites can both route data to you and check that you have permission to access it.
Why Would I Want to Hide My IP Address?
Since your IP address is needed to surf around the web, it can act as a fingerprint of your online activities. Webpages may choose to store this information to learn more about you and your interests for marketing purposes. Your data can also be potentially sold to third parties without your consent, or used to spy on you if someone has malicious intent. An example of this would be so-called “spyware, ” which can covertly log the sites you visit.
IP addresses are also used to restrict access to content, such as streaming services that are only available in certain locations. But hiding your IP address for this purpose is not something we advocate.
How Do I Hide My IP Address?
There are two main ways to hide your IP address: by using a virtual private network (VPN), or a proxy server. VPNs are the most common tools used by consumers to mask their IP addresses. This is a piece of software that allows you to create a secure connection to another server over the internet, so your data appears to come from the server you connect to. So, if you are in Los Angeles, for instance, the software can connect you to a server in London, hiding your actual location since your traffic appears to originate in London.
A proxy server is different in that it acts like a middleman between your device and the server you are trying to connect with. It receives a request from your device and then retrieves that information from the target server. The proxy can be either a computer or a piece of software that performs this function. It’s different from a VPN in that it doesn’t encrypt, or scramble, your information, making it less secure. That’s why we suggest that you use a VPN.
When Should I use a VPN?
There are a few scenarios when you may want to hide your IP address. The first is if you’re using public Wi-Fi, because your browsing activity might be accessible to anyone nearby. If you use a VPN, you can make a secure connection to the network and keep your activities private.
You may also choose to hide your IP address if you are concerned about your privacy on the web in general and want to make sure that there are no websites or cybercriminals tracking you.
Finally, users who want to connect with a private business or home network may also choose to use a VPN. Many businesses, for example, only allow their employees to connect to their internal network if their IP address is coming from an approved network. With a VPN, you can connect to the internal network from anywhere and you will be allowed access since it is coming from an approved IP address.
Other Ways to Protect Your Privacy
Check the privacy of all of your accounts to make sure they are on the strictest settings. On social media, make sure that only friends can see your information.
Turn off location services on websites and apps if you don’t need to use them. Unless you are using a service for mapping, or other location-critical functions, there is no reason to share your movements through the world.
Use complicated passwords and passphrases and keep them private. Password managers can help make this easier.
Install comprehensive security software on all of your devices. Try to choose a product that includes a VPN and identity theft protection.
When on a public Wi-Fi network, like in an airport or hotel, always use a VPN if you want to do banking and other sensitive activities securely.
Keep up-to-date on the latest threats, and how to avoid them.
Looking for more mobile security tips and trends? Be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.
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How to hide your IP address (8 ways, 6 are free) – Comparitech
I’ll show you how I hide my IP address as well as several other ways to change or hide an IP address free of charge. Your IP address can be used to track your device and location over the internet, so start hiding your IP now!
@pabischoff UPDATED: March 31, 2021
An IP address is a string of numbers and decimals that identifies your device and location. If you’re connected to the internet, then you have an IP address.
Your public IP address is unique and visible to everyone on the internet, so it can be used to track you and wall you off from region-locked content.
Because I like privacy and dislike censorship, I prefer to hide my IP address from internet providers, hackers, governments, advertisers and others. In this article, I’ll explain a few free and paid methods you can use to hide your IP address, as well as a few ways to change your IP address.
What’s my IP address?
In order to hide your IP address, you first have to know what it is. This is easy; just go to Google and enter “what’s my IP address? ”
You’ll see something like this:
123. 45. 67. 89
Specifically, that’s an IPv4 address. Some of you might have IPv6 connectivity, although it hasn’t been adopted everywhere yet. If your internet provider offers IPv6 on its network, you can look up your IPv6 address as well.
It’ll look something more like this:
For the most part, these two addresses serve the same purpose. If you want to hide your IPv4 address, then you’ll probably want to hide your IPv6 address as well, if you have one.
You can learn more about the differences between IPv4 and IPv6 here, but I won’t get too deep into that in this article.
Your IP address probably changes once in a while due to how the internet works, but you are the only one with your current IP address on the entire internet. Similar to physical addresses, IP addresses allow computers on the internet to find each other and communicate. IP addresses are an integral part of the IP protocol, the foundation on which the internet is built. Again, I’ll sidestep the nitty gritty details on how the IP protocol works.
8 ways to hide your IP address
#1. Use a VPN to hide your IP address
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network is a software service that encrypts all of the data sent to and from the internet and routes it through a VPN server in another location. The VPN server acts as a middleman between your device and the internet, so websites and online apps only see the server’s IP address and not your own.
Most VPNs are subscription services that cost a few dollars per month for access to hundreds or even thousands of servers around the world. You just need to sign up and download the apps for your devices. After that, hiding your IP address just takes a couple of clicks. It’s really easy.
WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE? NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use the VPN rated #1 for security and privacy with no restrictions for a month. This allows you to try its obfuscated servers out for yourself before you commit.
There are no hidden terms, either—just let support staff know within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn’t right for you to claim a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.
If NordVPN. isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you might want to try Surfshark or ExpressVPN. These services have plenty to offer, and come with significant discounts for long-term subscriptions.
Here’s how to hide your IP address:
First off, check your current IP address by Googling, “what’s my IP? ”
Sign up for a VPN. We recommend NordVPN.
Download the VPN app onto your device. Windows and Mac users usually get their app from the provider’s website. iOS and Android users get their app from the App Store and Google Play, respectively.
Install the VPN app and run it.
Sign in using the account credentials you created in step two.
Select a server or server location. Your new IP address will be that of this server.
Click the Connect button or double-tap the server to initiate a connection.
Once the connection has been established, you will have a new IP address. To confirm, Google “what’s my IP? ” Your new IP address should be different than in step one.
Here’s a video of how to hide your IP address with a VPN
Most commercial VPN providers, including NordVPN, use shared IP addresses, meaning that all VPN users connected to the same server are hidden behind the same IP address–that of the VPN server.
A VPN that uses shared IP addresses not only hides your real IP address, it makes you indistinguishable from all the other users. Your online activity cannot be traced back to a single user, adding a significant layer of anonymity.
If you’re serious about hiding your IP address, it’s vital to get a VPN with these features:
Private DNS servers – DNS works like a phone book for the internet by translating domain names like “” into IP addresses that your device can use to communicate. By default, you probably use DNS servers operated by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Google, which can see your IP address when you request a website, even when connected to a VPN. For this reason, it’s important to use a VPN that operates its own DNS servers so you never expose your IP address to a third party.
Leak protection – VPNs are meant to protect all the internet data traveling to and from your device, but sometimes they leak. When they leak, they expose your IP address. Get yourself a VPN that has DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak prevention.
Kill switch – A kill switch or network lock cuts off your entire device from the internet if the VPN connection drops for some reason, preventing anything from being sent from your real IP address without the VPN’s protection.
No-logs policy – The VPN provider should not record or store logs of your internet activity or any connection details that could be used to identify you.
2. Use a proxy to hide your IP address
Like a VPN, a proxy acts as a middleman between your device and the internet. Websites and apps see the IP address of the proxy server and not your real IP address.
In fact, a VPN is technically a type of proxy. But when I say “proxy, ” I’m usually referring to either an SSL, SSH, or SOCKS proxy. These types of proxies typically lack the encryption and other security features offered by VPNs, but they do hide your IP address from websites. They can be configured in existing apps like your browser or, like a VPN, use a third-party app.
Proxies usually don’t usually include DNS traffic, so your website requests still go to a third-party DNS server that can see your real IP address. VPNs with leak protection don’t have this problem. Furthermore, your real IP could be exposed if the proxy connection drops for some reason.
Because proxies lack the authentication of VPNs, they are also more susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks, in which an attacker can pose as the proxy server to steal your data.
Some VPNs offer HTTPS (SSL) proxies as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. These do a decent job of protecting your browser, but other apps and DNS requests can still expose your IP address.
3. Use Tor to hide your IP address for free
Tor, short for The Onion Router, is a decentralized worldwide anonymity network operated by thousands of volunteers. When you connect to Tor, your internet traffic is encrypted and routed through a random sequence of these volunteer “nodes, ” which are sort of like proxy servers. Websites can only see the IP address of the last server in the sequence, called the exit node.
Each time you visit a website, the sequence of nodes changes. This makes it practically impossible to trace activity back to the original IP address.
The easiest way to use Tor is to download and install the Tor Browser. It works just like a barebones version of any other browser like Chrome and Firefox, and it’s completely free.
There are drawbacks, however. Tor is slow and not suitable for torrenting or streaming–stick to web browsing. Furthermore, Tor is often associated with criminal activity because it can be used to access the darknet and illicit websites. Some websites block connections from known Tor nodes, and your ISP might frown upon its use.
See also: How to set up a hidden Tor service
4. Connect to a different network to change your IP address
Whenever you change networks, your IP address changes as well. So if you think the IP address you’ve been using has been compromised, blocked, or tracked, then you can change networks to get a new one.
You can connect to a public or private wifi network, or use your smartphone’s mobile data connection. Note that public wifi hotspots and open networks can be hunting grounds for hackers that can take advantage of the lack of encryption and authentication. Opt for networks that require a password, if possible.
5. Ask your ISP to change your IP address
Your ISP is the entity that decides who gets what IP address. So if you want to change your IP address for some reason, try giving them a call. You’ll need your account information on hand, as well as your current IP address.
It shouldn’t be too hard to get a different IP address, but don’t expect it to stay the same forever. Because IP addresses are constantly being recycled in order to preserve the limited number of available IP addresses, your IP address will probably change once in a while. These are called dynamic IP addresses.
You could request a static IP address that never changes, but there might be an application process and an extra fee.
6. Unplug your modem to change your IP address
This isn’t guaranteed to work, but you can often get a new IP address by unplugging your internet modem and plugging it back in again. When you lose the connection to your ISP, your old IP address will get recycled. When you re-establish a connection, you’ll be assigned a new IP address.
The longer you leave the modem unplugged, the more likely this tactic will work. Try leaving it unplugged overnight if you have to.
Your ISP must use dynamic IP addresses for this to work. Most do.
7. Use a NAT Firewall to hide your private IP address
If you use a wireless router to connect to the internet, it’s likely that you’re behind a NAT firewall. In simplest terms, a NAT firewall allows multiple devices on the same network to use the same public IP address but unique private IP addresses. Network Address Translation (NAT) forwards requests and data from the private IP addresses of individual devices to their online destination under the router’s public IP address. This conserves address space (the number of available IP addresses) and prevents unsolicited inbound communication with potentially dangerous computers on the internet.
A NAT firewall doesn’t hide your public IP address, but your private IP address. All devices connected to a NAT-enabled router will share a public IP address. The NAT firewall will prevent any online communication that isn’t in response to a request you sent from a private IP address. All other requests and data packets are discarded because they don’t have a private IP address to which they can be forwarded.
8. Renew your IP address to change your private IP address
As mentioned above, if you’re connected to an internet router by wifi or ethernet cable, then you’ve probably got a private, or local, IP address as well. It’s not as important to keep this IP address a secret while online, but there might be instances in which you need to change it.
You can do this by entering a few simple commands into your Windows Command Prompt or Mac Terminal.
How to renew your IP address on Windows:
Search for the Command Prompt and right click it to Run as administrator
Enter ipconfig /release
Enter ipconfig /renew
You should now see a new local IP address.
How to renew your IP on MacOS:
Click the Apple menu and open System Preferences
Highlight the network that you’re connected to in the left pane
Select the TCP/IP tab
Click Renew DHCP Lease
Your Mac will now have a different private IP address.
You can never hide your IP address from your ISP
It’s not possible to hide your IP address from your ISP. It makes sense: my ISP provides me with internet service and therefore an IP address. Without an IP address, I can’t connect to the internet.
VPNs and proxies don’t literally replace your existing IP address. They just mask your IP address with one of their own so that other computers and servers on the internet can’t see yours. But your real IP address is still there, communicating through the proxy or VPN server as an intermediary.
Even though you can never hide your real IP address from your ISP, you can hide the content and destination of your internet activity with a VPN. The encryption prevents your ISP from seeing what information you send and receive, and the ISP can only see that you’re connected to a VPN server—not the websites or apps you use. Conversely, the VPN hides your real IP address from websites and apps, but they still see the contents and destination of your internet communications.
The only parties that can see all three—your real IP address, the websites you visit, and what data is transmitted between the two—are you and your VPN provider. For this reason, I only recommend VPNs that don’t store any logs of your online activity.
IP Leak Test — Quick Tips to Check Whether Your IP Is Leaking
Is your VPN leaking? Here’s how to identify IP leaks and ways to prevent them
Hey, your IP’s showing.
Made you look. But if you’re using a VPN, you may want to run an IP leak test anyhow just to make sure it’s not.
All computers, devices, and servers connected to the internet have a digital identity in the alphanumeric form, which is known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address.
IP address is assigned by your internet service provider (ISP) — from where you are getting the internet — such as Wi-Fi, office internet, home internet, cell phone internet data, etc
Just by knowing an IP address, you can find out a device’s geographical location, internet provider’s name, local time, and even the users’ web browsing behaviors in some cases. The IP address of any device or server can be easily checked by anyone on the internet.
To hide their IP addresses, people use virtual private networks (VPNs). But sometimes VPNs aren’t successful in hiding the original IP addresses and end up revealing them to the outer world. This is known as an IP leak and this is where an IP leak check comes in handy.
In this article, we’ll cover how to conduct an IP leak test
to discover such leaks. We’ll also talk about the various IP leak types and
ways to prevent them.
How to Conduct an IP Leak Test
People perform an IP leak test is to check whether your device’s original IP address (i. e. IP provided by ISP) is leaking even after installing a VPN — and if it is leaking, what other details it’s revealing about your device to others. Follow the steps below to perform an IP leak check:
Step 1: Use an IP Leak Test Tool
Turn off your VPN and go to any of the following websites to
conduct your IP leak test:
Be sure to jot down this IP address as it’s your original ISP IP address.
Step 2: Choose a VPN IP Address Location
Next, turn on the VPN and select the IP address for your desired geographical location.
Step 3: Re-Check Your IP Address
Now, go back to the website you visited in step one where
you conducted the first IP leak test and refresh the page.
If you see the new IP address for the location you selected
on the VPN software, it means the VPN is successfully hiding your IP address. If
you still see your original IP address and location, your device is suffering
from an IP leak — hence, the VPN isn’t working properly.
Please note that all of these websites show different
details in their IP leak test results. However, the common elements of these
reports are your:
public IP address, internet service provider, geographical location, and local time-zone.
Check out the before and after screenshots from my own IP
leak test (below). The former was taken when my VPN was turned off. The latter was
taken after turning on the VPN and selecting an IP address of a VPN server
located in India.
4 Common Types of IP Leaks
Your IP address can be leaking in various ways. So, for example,
it might not be leaking while visiting some websites, but it may leak while
downloading a file from Torrent or engaging in another activity. So, it’s
crucial to identify which type of leak your device is experiencing. Here are four
of the most common types of IP leaks:
1. DNS IP Leak
IP addresses are made of a long string of numbers and
alphabets, which are difficult for humans to memorize. For humans, web surfing while
using a domain name (like,,, etc. ) is more
convenient. This is where a domain name system (DNS) comes in handy.
A DNS works like a mediator between humans and servers via
their browsers. When a user tries to connect to a website, the DNS translates that
domain name to an IP addresses, which enables a browser to request a specific
website from a server to connect to it.
But like with most technologies, the domain name system
isn’t perfect. The downside of the DNS is that it keeps a log of all user activities,
which websites have been visited by which IP
addresses (i. e., the website visitors), their geographic locations, and the list of pages they visited after arriving at
All ISPs, by default, enable DNS. That means your internet service provider can know your entire browsing history.
When you use a VPN, it hides your original ISP DNS under the anonymous VPN DNS. But sometimes, when users request the DNS to open a website, it bypasses the VPN’s IP address and accesses the user’s ISP IP address directly, causing what’s called a DNS leak.
How to Conduct a DNS IP Leak Test
Turn off your to or (or any other DNS leak test tool you trust). Make sure you’re not using any VPN providers’ DNS leak testing websites, though. Write down the resulting information the page displays. This is going to be your ISP IP address, ISP’s name, and geographical location. Now, turn on the VPN and select any other geographical location of your choice. Once again, go to the DNS leak checking website and conduct the test. Now, you should see the different IP addresses, internet provider’s name, and geographical location this time. If you still see your original ISP IP address and other details, your VPN is suffering from a DNS leak.
How to Prevent a DNS Leak
While purchasing a VPN, you should always check whether it has a DNS leak prevention feature. But if your current VPN doesn’t have this feature, you can manually change the DNS configuration. You can use this Google’s DNS guide to switch your ISP’s DNS to Google’s public DNS.
2. Torrent IP Leak
While using Torrent, your file-sharing client can monitor all your activities using your ISP IP address. But with VPN, you can disguise your true the identity from the Torrent client. Plus, all the activities and files will get encrypted, too. However, sometimes, your Torrent client bypasses the VPN IP address and can see the ISP IP address, which is known as Torrent IP leak.
How to Conduct a Torrent IP Leak Test
To check for an IP leak via Torrent:
Open a Torrent privacy checker tool. (We have linked, but you can choose any tool you want to use. )Download the test file from the link provided on the website, which is also known as the magnet the test file to the Torrent client. Check which IP address the Torrent privacy checker tool is displaying. If it’s showing the IP address and geographical location you set on your VPN, it means your anonymity is maintained by the VPN while Torrenting. If it shows your ISP IP address, your system is suffering from the Torrent IP leak.
How to Prevent a Torrent IP Leak
Go to your VPN setting. Disable both the DHT and PEX feature and the split tunneling feature. Always enable the kill switch feature of the VPN. If your VPN doesn’t have it, use a third-party VPN connection monitoring tool such as VPN Watcher that offers the kill switch feature and prevents an IP leak when the VPN is down.
3. WebRTC IP Leak
All the major web browsers (such as Google Chrome, Mozilla
Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Yandex) have a feature called web real-time
communication, or WebRTC. This tool enables video calls, file sharing, live
chats, voice calls, etc. But websites can trick the browsers’ WebRTC feature
into bypassing the website visitors’ VPN IP address and revealing their real IP
Even though there are tools available to conduct a WebRTC
leak test, just do so with caution. You can’t rely on them 100% because you
How to Prevent a WebRTC IP Leak
You can install an add-on or extension that disables the WebRTC
vulnerability. Let’s explore how this works in Google Chrome and Mozilla
Install a WebRTC Leak Prevention Tool in Chrome
Go to the Chrome Web for WebRTC. Choose the extension such as WebRTC Leak Prevent or WebRTC Prevent Shield. And click on Add to Chrome and activate it.
Install a WebRTC IP Leak Prevention Tool in Firefox
Type about:addons in the
Firefox address WebRTC in the search
bar. A new window will pop-up. Select one of the
suitable add-ons and add it to Firefox. Enable the add-on after it has successfully
4. Email IP Leak
When you send an email to someone, some email clients send
your IP address to your email recipients as a part of the header information.
When this occurs, it means you’ve got an email IP leak. All email clients have
different policies about showing IP addresses. Here, we have demonstrated how
you can manually check Gmail’s header information:
Go to Gmail and open an existing email for investigation, on the right-hand side, click on the menu
(three dots) and go to Show original.
Press Ctrl+F on your keyboard and search for “Received:
from. ” You might see the sender’s IP address in the place which we
have highlighted with red color in the screenshot below.
You can also conduct the email IP leak test with the email
IP leak software by following these steps.
Write down your original IP address and turn on the to the Email IP Leak Test on an email to the given email address. Wait for the result. The website will automatically update the result after some time. The results may be delayed, but don’t refresh the page.
As a result, either you will be shown the message “Your
email has been received, and it doesn’t leak your IP, ” Or it will show
which IP address it is leaking. If that IP address is the same as your VPN
server’s IP address, you’re still in the safe zone.
However, if it shows your original ISP IP address, your VPN
is not working properly.
How to Prevent an Email IP Leak
Unfortunately, you can’t stop email clients from revealing your IP address. However, if they are showing the ISP IP address in the header information, even after you are using VPN, it is a problem. You should discuss this issue with your VPN provider’s support team. They might suggest some security setting tricks to prevent such a leak. If your VPN provider can’t prevent the email client from revealing your original IP address, you should change VPN providers.
Why Is an IP Leak Test Necessary?
If you are wondering why an IP leak test matters, this section will answer that question. You need to understand why people want to hide their IP addresses in the first place.
When the VPN is installed and turned on, your device will be assigned a temporary VPN server IP address to conceal your original IP address (the one issued by your ISP). This VPN server might be located in different cities and countries. You can also manually choose the geographical location to get the IP address from that region. The original IP address would be working in the background because your internet still comes from your regular ISP provider, but then the new VPN IP adds another layer of IP security onto it, like a mask, to hide the original one.
Some online marketers track IP addresses to know users’ browsing behaviors. This data helps them target appropriate advertisements based on each user’s individual preferences. Some people consider this advertising technique manipulative or invasive and prefer to hide their original IP addresses by using a VPN.
Some websites and apps allow access to their content to viewers from specific countries while banning viewership from other regions. VPN software gives you the option to choose an IP address from a variety of different countries, which helps you to bypass such geographical restrictions. (Note: This might be illegal in some cases. ) With an international IP address, you can have access to international entertainment such as sports games, television series, music, etc. — all without ever changing your physical location.
Websites blacklist a user’s IP address and ban them from
accessing the website if they suspect that the user has violated rules or is
trying to conduct cyber attacks such as DDoS attacks, SQL injections, brute
force attacks, with VPN, users get new IP addresses and they
can evade such bans. (However, it’s definitely a red flag from a cybersecurity
point of view. )
So, when your VPN leaks your original IP address, it means you can’t hide your online browsing behavior, access geographically-restricted websites, and apps, or visit sites where your IP address is blacklisted. An IP leak test is conducted to show the users whether their VPN is leaking their original IP address.
A Final Word
VPN is a double-edged sword. While concealing the real IP
address will give internet users a sense of privacy and access to international
entertainment, it can also be misused by cybercriminals. When the original IP
is hidden, it becomes challenging to trace the origins of the cyberattacks. Sometimes
when websites or apps put the geographical restrictions on some content, they
do so for specific reasons, such as being compliant with legal restrictions or
security measures. So, if you manipulate your IP address and get caught, the
consequences can be dire.
While you should definitely do what you can to prevent an IP
leak, make sure you’re not breaking any laws while browsing the internet.
Frequently Asked Questions about how to secure my ip address
How can I protect my IP address for free?
Use a proxy to hide your IP address. … Use Tor to hide your IP address for free. … Connect to a different network to change your IP address. … Ask your ISP to change your IP address. … Unplug your modem to change your IP address. … Use a NAT Firewall to hide your private IP address.More items…•Mar 31, 2021
How do I know if my IP address is secure?
Go to dnsleaktest.com or dnsleak.com (or any other DNS leak test tool you trust). Make sure you’re not using any VPN providers’ DNS leak testing websites, though. Write down the resulting information the page displays. This is going to be your ISP IP address, ISP’s name, and geographical location.Feb 27, 2020
Can I hide my IP address from hackers?
There are essentially two methods you can choose from to hide your IP address. One is using a proxy server, and the other is using a virtual private network (VPN). Either one will be sufficient, but there are a few cons associated with proxy servers that make VPNs a more optimal choice for many.