Casually surfing the internet does not mean that you’re not being monitored, your ISP is tracking your activities. You left your traces behind at the website you previously visited before coming to this one, snoopers are able to access your information at the comment box to the post you replied on, you cannot visit that website containing your favorite TV series since it is in a different region inaccessible from your location.
Cyber criminals love to see you in their hit radar, you are in a delusion that you are anonymous while surfing the web and all of this takes place when you don’t have any protection to hide your IP address and the worst case, I know from where you are reading this article by looking at your IP address.
What Is an IP address?
Your ISP assigns a ‘unique numerical identity’ to each device connected to the internet called an IP (Internet Protocol) address. Your IP address is transmitted to the servers you logged on to and the ones you visited which clears the concept of how your internet activity is traced. This contains the information of your;
- ZIP code
- Longitude & latitude
However, communication between devices on a network is enabled. The concept can be clarified by considering them as system identifiers.
The IP address is confidential bits having your information as they direct the locations of the systems to which they are assigned to. The physical location of the interfaced device is the data is the information required for the internet protocol to establish the communication. They are 32 bit numbers, can be written between 0 to 255, between two decimals and some examples are:-
Example of valid IP address
- 126.96.36.199 – An IP address signed by Google.
- 188.8.131.52 – An IP address assigned to Harvard University.
Therefore, it will be a very sane and logical decision to hide your IP address in this age where internet frauds take place just at a click away. Remain anonymous, deny IP bans, watch your favorite episodes on Netflix and play your favorite video game from your college.
Below are the methods jotted on how you can wear your ‘invisibility cloak‘ to hide your IP address and fly around the world of the internet without anyone even noticing you.
Call Your Internet Service Provider
There are two types of IP addresses which your ISP assigns you, static IP and dynamic IP. A static IP is difficult to change as your ISP has to go through over a long method, thus most IP addresses sign their users with a static IP address. Ask your ISP for an IP address change. If they do so, you are lucky enough otherwise not.
Another method is to restart your modem. This disturbance with your ISP causes you to be assigned with a new IP address. This only works in the case dynamic IPs but restart after a few hours of time. Following are some procedures to be taken before you disable your router:
Windows System Connected via Cable
- Open the command prompt as administrator.
- Type “ipconfig/release” without quotes and press enter.
- Type “ipconfig/renew” without quotes and press enter.
- Shut down PC.
- Turn off all switches.
- Unplug modem.
- Leave the things as they are.
- Restart the system.
Windows System Connected via Router
- Log into the router’s admin portal.
- Release your IP address.
- Shut down your system.
- Turn off all switches.
- Unplug your modem.
- Leave the things as they are.
- Restart your system.
These are the methods jotted on how you can change your IP address, however, hiding your IP address is completely a different thing.
Hide IP Address with a VPN
What a VPN does is that it simply routes your data packets through an encrypted tunnel protocol. This protected protocol is encapsulated with security properties which will result in the instant discontinuation of the connection if any disturbance takes place. It protects your entire web activity including your activity on other applications. Other than encrypting your data, it even masks your IP address.
Some advantages of using a VPN are listed as follows:
- Enhances Security.
- Censorship is ceased.
- Defends against cyber attacks.
- Internet speed gets a boost since your ISP throttles your bandwidth at a lower rate.
A VPN allocates new IP addresses to the systems connected to it. When you connect to a VPN, you are assigned an IP address different from your real one. Your actual IP address will be used to connect to a VPN while what you browse will be trafficked from your private network. In short, you are now using the new IP address your VPN assigned you to with your actual IP address being hidden.
Use Proxy Server
Proxy servers act as moderators in the routing of your data packets. They connect your information, by intercepting your traffic. Your system sends your request to the go-between server that creates your request and returns your asked website. Now, everything you tell the proxy server to perform, it does by acting as a mirror in between. In other words, your IP address gets cloaked by the proxy server’s IP address.
The amazing thing about proxy servers is that they connected themselves from anywhere on earth. For example, you want to access a website whose main server is in New Zealand. Its contents are banned for those IP addresses located outside New Zealand. You connect to a Kiwi based proxy server and congratulations. You are, virtually, a New Zealander now and can access that website for all intents and purposes.
Proxy servers are mostly used to get pass through contents blocked for geological reasons and IP restrictions. Even still, proxy servers are still not that efficient as VPNs. A VPN contains many layers of security while proxies are vulnerable to, even, encrypting your data. Using a proxy server to hide your IP address is the riskiest method as yet.
Further Reading: Difference Between VPN and Proxy
Use Tor Browser
Abbreviated as ‘The Onion Router‘ is a freeware software, designed by the U.S Navy, that uses the principle of onion routing by bouncing your request to multiple servers across the globe encrypting it at every node. It anonymously connects you with servers controlled by volunteers spread over the planet. So, you are assigned a new IP address whenever your request is bounced to any new server. Your IP address and activities are literally unable to trace by allowing complete anonymity.
One major bonus of using Tor is that you are enabled to access those websites which are inaccessible to standardized browsers. Tor contains the most strongest security but you will get into the danger zone when you will dare to access the websites, i.e dark web, for which Tor is popularly used. Drug markets, hit-men to hire, weapon selling websites, illegitimate pornography, cannibal locations are some examples of what the dark web is accessed, through Tor obviously.
Don’t worry. Your IP address is secured when using Tor except for the fact when you actually do an illegal transaction on the dark web. It protects your activities being done inside the customer Tor web browser.
Visit the above link, install and browse. It’s that easy. Some advise are:
- Do not torrent over Tor.
- Don’t enable browser plugins.
- Do not open documents downloaded through when connected online.
The biggest drawback of Tor is its speed. Since your request is bounced from all over the planet between different nodes makes browsing through Tor quite slow. Another con of using Tor is that authoritarians monitor surveillance due to its prejudice and its utilization for purposes deemed illegal to societies and normal human behavior. Therefore, using Tor is one of the efficient ways of hiding your IP address.
Over to you on choosing the method for the purpose to hide your IP address. My recommendation will be to opt for a VPN considering the best security and masking options available among the three options described above.
Further Reading: Tor Vs VPN (comparison)
Connect to Public Wi-Fi
Connecting to any public Wi-Fi when you go outside will change/hide your IP address from the device you are interfacing with.
It is neither effective nor efficient just like using mobile data. There are many vulnerabilities while connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. In 2015 over half a billion personal information and confidential records were stolen and lost due to connecting over any deceiving open Wi-Fi network.
Some steps to be taken before connecting with any public Wi-Fi are:
- Keep your anti-virus up-to-dated. – Detects newly coded malwares.
- Update your system and browser – Previous versions of your browsers and OS’ might provide a loophole for hackers to attack your data.
- Enable a firewall – This will help you to keep an eye of the traffic routed into and out from your device.
- Use SSL encrypted websites – This enables that any data you submit over any SSL encrypted website remains private.
- If you are intentionally connecting over Public Wi-Fi, then remove any sort of sensitive information from your device you are interfaced with.
- Turn off sharing.
- Do not log into websites like Paypal or those which facilitate you with banking services and cash transactions.
Note: Do Not Make Any Money Transfers.