Mr. John Wayne lives in X house, at Y Street in LA. Isn’t it enough information to track him? Yes, surely it is. John’s address is the most prominent identification for him. Isn’t it? Just like a home or office address, a person’s IP address is the biggest identification on the internet. Anyone with access to a person’s IP address can track him, serve targeted ads, spy on him, geo-blocked him, and intrude in his personal space. In today’s cyber world it is essential to hide IP address and stay anonymous all the time.
In this precise guide, we will provide our readers with four simple and easy ways to hide IP online from prying eyes.
Before heading towards the four effective methods, let’s understand some basics first.
The Science behind IP Address and Its Distribution
An Internet Protocol (IP) is the identifier of your device on the internet. The internet is a vast group of interconnected networks, and an IP address is the string of characters that uniquely identifies the device connected to that network. Without an IP address, a website server wouldn’t be able to know where to send the data that is requested. The basic principle of IP is to structure and deliver information from point A to point B.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) creates the IP address and distribute it among the five Regional Internet Registries (RIR). RIR then hand over the IP address to the Internet Service Provider (ISP), who assign the IP to end-user like me and you.
There are two types of IP addresses. One is IP version 4 (IPv4), and another one is IP version 6 (IPv6). IPv4 addresses are 32 bits long. Because of 32 bits, there can only be 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses in the world.
Back in 2015, four out of five RIR ran out of IP addresses. To solve the problem, new IP version 6 was introduced that is 128 bits long. There are no chances to short out of IPv6 address any time soon.
Just like every house has a different postal code and every car has a different number plate; similarly, every device connected to the internet has a unique IP address. It means that your desktop, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, wearables, gadgets, consoles, and smart TVs all have a uniquely different IP address.
Your IP address is your digital footprint. Anyone who can see your IP address can easily trace back to the physical location of your device. Once I get your IP, I will know where you reside or work.
4 Most Effective Ways to Hide Your IP Address Online
All your online activities can be tracked, monitored, and stored with the help of your IP address. Other then the privacy concerns, I would also want to hide my IP to access geo-blocked websites, download torrents, watch sports and movies online. If you are someone like me, who is concerned about online privacy and anonymity, then keep reading!
VPN – The Super Hero (Most Recommended)
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that initially designed to create a secure private network for the corporate world to connect far-located branches with the head office. Now the technology is highly regarded for online security.
VPN is a network of servers deployed at diversified locations. Once you connect to a VPN server, your real IP is replaced with one of VPN server’s IP. Hence your real IP stays anonymous from everyone, and even your ISP can’t see it.
All VPN providers hide IP addresses, but not all of them are trustworthy. There are hundreds of VPN providers active in the market and choosing the right one is not an easy job. To help our readers, we have reviewed over 30 VPN providers and crafted a list of top 5 VPN that offers complete anonymity.
Check out the top 5 most recommended VPNs for hiding your IP online.
Pros of using a VPN:
- Ability to choose IP of your desired location
- Highly secure, as all of your internet traffic will route through a secure network.
- VPN encrypts all your data making it impossible for anyone to decrypt it.
- A most convenient and easy way to hide your IP.
- It works with all devices including desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet, consoles, smart gadgets, etc.
- Help you to unblock geo-restricted websites and online channels.
Cons of using a VPN:
- High level of encryption may result in slow internet speed.
- Illegal in some countries like the UAE, Iran and many others.
- Not a free option. Most free VPNs are limited in features.
Proxy – Money Saver (2nd Recommended)
If you are looking for a free method to hide your IP, Proxy is the best solution.
A proxy server acts as a bridge between you and the destination website. Every proxy server has its IP addresses. When you connect to a web proxy and request to access a particular website, your request first goes to the proxy server. The proxy server forwards your web request on your behalf to the destination server; collects the response from the destination server, and route back to you so you can see the page in your browser. In the entire process, the destination server has no clue about your real IP. All they can see is the IP address of the proxy server.
Pros of using a Proxy Server
- Totally Free
- Bypass geo-restrictions
- Easiest way to hide your IP
Cons of using a Proxy Server
- Does not encrypt your data
- Traffic route through a server and not a network, so traffic can be leaked
- No options to select IP region
- Full of targeted advertisements
- Most proxies are web-based, so can be easily compromised with malware and viruses
Tor Browser – Best Invisibility Cloak (Safest Option)
Tor or ‘The Onion Routing’ is the technology comprise of a network with different relays. It keeps a user 100% anonymous by encrypting the data and route it through different relays in the Tor network creating multi-layered encryption (layers like onion). One encryption layer is decrypted when it reaches to next relay and so on until it reaches the destination. Relays are selected randomly by the Tor network. In the entire process, the origination of the traffic remains hidden.
Pros of using a Tor Browser:
- Highly secure and 100% anonymous
- Helps to bypass geo-restrictions
- Tor is open source software, so it has lower chances of vulnerability
- Allow access to dark web
Cons of using a Tor Browser:
- User cannot select the relays
- Slow down your internet speed to a great extent
- Only limited to the web traffic
Public WiFi – Least Secure Option
Free WiFi is better than a free cup of coffee. We all use Public WiFi at some point in our day-to-day life. WiFi offers dynamic IPs which keep changing every time you connect with it. So, if there’s something you want to do without disclosing your home or work IP address, then you can borrow a new IP address by connecting to a Public WiFi Hotspot.
Do remember, by connecting to a Public WiFi hotspot you are only borrowing a different IP which can be traced back to you.
Pros of using a WiFi
- Free of cost
- Easiest to connect
Cons of using a WiFi
- Does not encrypt your data
- No security while routing the traffic
- Can be easily hacked
- It does not help you to bypass geo-restrictions
- No option to choose IP region
- Full of vulnerabilities
Why do I need to hide my IP Address?
What is the most important information that ecommerce websites like Amazon needs, to deliver their products to you? It’s your house or office address. Similarly, on the internet, a web server needs your IP address to send back the data to you. Therefore, your IP should be public and any website you visit can access it.
So, what is the big deal here? Who cares if my IP is visible to everyone on the internet. It’s just a string of a few characters. Well, here I am wrong. You could try searching your IP at “whatismyIP.com” or “iplocation.com,” and you will see that it’s just not the strings of a few characters visible there, but it is showing where you are located. And that’s where you will start getting worried.
Apart from security, there are many reasons that you should consider to hide your IP. We have listed some popular ones down below:
Get Over IP Restrictions
The open internet is no more. There are many services restricted to specific regions only. To name a few, we can take the example of Netflix. Netflix is available in many regions, but its library differs from one region to another. Most content is only available in the USA library. Original shows and series premiere episodes landed first in USA library than any other. Apart from Netflix, we have Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, ABC, Popcorn times, are some streaming channels only available in the USA.
BBC iPlayer of UK, Foxtel of Australia, Hotstar of India, Jazeerah of UAE, these are some other examples of websites not accessible by everyone on the internet as they are restricted to their operating regions only. Do you know how these channels and streaming websites restrict your access? Well, it’s simple as cake. These websites filter IPs and limit the access to the IPs from region any other than the origin country.
To fix this hassle all you need is to change your IP. You can do the job with a VPN or Proxy. These are the only two options where you can hide your IP with any desired location.
Say GoodBye to Censorships
Censorship referred to as the restriction imposed by the government or any other authoritative body or your ISP to access specific content online. Let us explain it with an example.
In China, you cannot access Google, Gmail, New York Times and many another website because the government imposed ‘Great Firewall of China’ doesn’t allow you. Similarly, In Iran, many websites are blocked. In UAE, you cannot make voice call via Whatsapp and Skype or any other VoIP services as the ISPs block the access. The Russian government has banned access to many websites as well. In this scenario, the services aren’t blocking your access, but your government has restricted access to these websites or channels within the country.
In such a scenario, government or ISP, block the domain or keywords to certain websites and due to these reasons, citizens of that particular country cannot access specific content. The perfect solution to get out of this pathetic situation is by replacing your original IP to any other country IP that doesn’t block the access to your desired website.
VPN and proxy both are the best options to do the job, but we highly recommend using a VPN.
Don’t Let Targeted Ads Kill Your Mood
Persky advertisers are lurking around to access your IP address so they can serve you loads and loads of ads. If you don’t want targeted ads to kill your mood while you are enjoying streaming, gaming, browsing or chatting, then you should use a VPN to mask your IP. Being anonymous is the best way to avoid targeted ads.
Watch Sports In Native Language
There’s a high possibility that while FIFA season is on its full swing and your favorite team is winning; you might ask to attend a meeting or seminar in UAE. Hell No! But as it says, you can’t argue with the boss. In that scenario how would you be able to watch the game? Even if the channels in UAE broadcast the games, the commentary will be in Arabic.
The best way to enjoy sports or movie streaming in your native language when you are far from your country is by replacing the IP with one of your home country’s IP. It can be quickly done via VPN and Proxy.
Avoid Surveillance and Spying
Do you know the worst part of the story? Get ready to hear it. Your IP address is distributed around the cyber world like a signature. Every website you have ever visited, kept a log of your IP address. If your government or any litigious data mining company or the Persky advertisers trace you with your real IP, then they will have access to all your online activities like an open season of GoT.
The government of countries like USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, and France has laws against the privacy of its citizens. In the name of terrorism and national security, the governments are collecting all your online information including your call records and text messages. How is it being done? The answer is simple, by tracking your IP address. If your IP is anonymous, no one, not even your ISP can see your digital footprints.
The best tools to make your IP anonymous online are VPN, Tor, and Proxy.