Your IP address is what labels your online existence. And, the same is exploited the most to breach your privacy. That is why the security experts frequently advise concealing this information. In fact, I also prefer to hide my IP, whenever I connect to the internet, to avoid online traceability.
Although, due to the significance of IP address in online communications, it sometimes creates problems when you mask your IP address. However, considering the growing incidences of cyber attacks and internet censorship, it becomes inevitable to go under the radar.
To hide your IP, you must first understand what it is and how it works. With this article, we quickly review some of the best ways to hide your IP address.
What Is My IP Address
In simple words, your IP address is your identity in the internet world. Just like you have different home and office addresses in the physical world, you have a separate IP address for all your devices through which you use the internet. Eventually, it acts as an identifier for a machine-to-machine communication for computers, servers, and websites.
In technical terms, an IP address is a string of numbers assigned to your online identity. This unique identifier labels your device when you exchange information with other systems under the Internet Protocol (IP).
In case of IPv4, the IP address is a 32-bit numerical string having four octets (each of 8-bit) in the format X.X.X.X. The numerical values are actually the decimal representation of a binary number and can be any number from 0 to 255. For example, 22.214.171.124, or 126.96.36.199.
The octets in an IP address represent the network address and the host address. These addresses depict the physical location of a device, and thus, is a direct indication of a user’s actual location.
IP Address Tracking
As stated above, the IP address carries information about the exact location of a device. Therefore, it is considered to be one of the crucial details regarding an online user to track. When a user wants to stay anonymous online, he or she should choose to hide IP address.
From government authorities to website owners and the threat actors, everyone is curious to monitor users’ IP addresses.
- Most websites use this information to know the geographical reach of their site. They can also use this detail to block certain users such as users from a specific region.
- The advertisers track IP addresses for ad targeting.
- Government authorities and ISPs monitor IP addresses for content restrictions.
- The threat actors track users’ IP addresses to know their physical locations, hack their devices, and execute other malicious activities.
How To Hide IP Address
Whether you are a student, a corporate employee or a regular internet user annoyed with internet censorship, at times, you may feel ‘I need to hide my IP to evade these restrictions’.
Well, hiding an IP address is not a big deal if you are clear about your browsing requirements. Here I list some of the best ways for you.
1. Top Way: Use A Reputed VPN
Using a VPN is unarguably the best approach while accessing the internet. To me, it is the ultimate option to change my IP, maintain my online privacy, and ensure a completely anonymous browsing experience. Hence, I highly recommend this option to all the readers.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) works by encrypting your entire network. It creates a tunnel that encrypts all the data transmitted to and from your device and the website(s) you visit.
It scrambles the data generated from your device by transmitting it first to a remote server. In this way, it changes your location and IP address with that generated from the server. Thus, when the data reach your desired website, the site can neither detect your location nor your IP address. This behavior allows you to enjoy complete anonymity and freedom of browsing.
Plus, owing to the data encryption, you remain veiled from the hackers as well.
The only problem with this option is that most good VPNs are paid. While you can also find some free VPNs online, they usually do not offer comprehensive features as the paid ones. Moreover, due to the increase in the popularity of VPNs, many threat actors trick users with malicious free VPN apps or IP scrambler tools. Therefore, I strongly advise you to look up for the best VPN reviews prior installation.
2. Use Internet Proxy
To me, this is the best option to hide my IP address free online. However, there are some risks as well, which I state over here for transparency. You can read along and decide if it is feasible for you.
A web proxy works at the level of your browser by changing your IP with an unreal one. This allows your browser to bypass IP/location blocking while connecting with websites.
However, if you want to enjoy advanced browsing with complete anonymity and safety, then proxies are of little help. These services do not encrypt your data. Plus, almost always, they are likely to leak your actual IP to web trackers. Some websites detect and block proxies from accessing their content. Therefore, if you wish to bypass content restriction, IP ban, or censorship using proxies, you may face trouble visiting some websites.
3. Use Secure Browsers
Most internet users use either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox on their PCs, and Chrome and Safari on Android and iOS devices respectively. Some of you might prefer Opera, Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer as well. While all these browsers are quite popular, almost all of them (besides Firefox), are not secure for you.
Well, these browsers tend to leak your internet details online. Also, they are vulnerable to hacking and cyber threats.
Using secure browsers is, therefore, a safe option to browse the internet securely. Most of these browsers hide your IP address, delete browsing history, prevent DNS and WebRTC leak, and block tracking objects. I prefer Tor Browser whenever I want to hide my IP and surf anonymously.
TOR certainly tops the list of secure browsers. Powered by Mozilla, Tor Browser offers incredible privacy features such as IP hider, network data encryption, and preventing third-party tracking including government authorities, surveillance agencies, and ISPs.
Moreover, it also works best for evading IP bans and content restrictions.
Some other secure browsers include:
- Water Fox
- Mozilla Firefox (after adjusting browser settings)
Other Alternative Methods
Well, I don’t usually prefer these options to hide my IP. However, in the absence of the ways I listed above, the following can help in masking IP addresses temporarily.
5. Seek Help From Your ISP
As I said above, an IP address is assigned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Users can never determine what IP addresses their devices receive. However, they can certainly ask their ISPs to change their IPs. While it is not an easy method since you will possibly face lots of questions, it might do the needful if you ask politely.
Fortunately, most ISPs, today, assign dynamic IP addresses – the ones that change every time you reconnect the modem. So, if you have a dynamic IP from your ISP, you can simply unplug your modem, wait for some time, and then re-plug it.
While that is effective, it isn’t a feasible option to hide IP address for frequent internet users.
6. Use Your Mobile Network
For temporarily changing your IP address, you can also use your mobile data. This can serve as a quick option to evade an IP ban. However, it isn’t a long-term solution for IP masking.
7. Connect to A Different Network
Another quick yet temporary option to change your IP is to connect to a different network. You can use your neighbor’s Wi-Fi (if you know the password), or you can connect to a free public Wi-Fi. However, public Wi-Fis usually harbor cybercriminals. So, it isn’t a feasible option for internet banking or other sensitive activities.
Why Should I Hide My IP?
A common problem with most internet users is that they don’t realize the importance of online privacy. When talking about hiding IPs and anonymous browsing, most of the times I hear people saying “why should I hide my IP when I don’t do anything illegal!”
Well, hiding your IP or adopting online security measures doesn’t indicate that you do anything illegal. Rather, it is to protect yourself from illegal activities such a spying, hacking, malware attacks, web tracking, and from unnecessary surveillance.
Here I list a few reasons why you should consider hiding your IP.
1. Hide Your Location
As you know, your IP address directly represents your physical location. So, masking your IP is a key step to prevent location tracking.
2. Evade IP Restrictions
Banning IP addresses is a common strategy to block certain users from accessing a website. Most website owners use IP blocker as a means to secure their website from DoS attacks. However, the use of such tools also hinders innocent internet users from accessing their content.
When you change or hide your IP, you can evade such IP bans to access a site.
3. Evade Content Blocking
Most schools and workplaces tend to block certain websites on their networks. For instance, employers can ban social media websites to prevent their employees from wasting hours on social media.
While that sounds okay, such limitations can become irritating in urgent situations, for instance, when you need quick assignment help, or want to officially communicate with someone in the other part of the world via Facebook.
Since most of these bans involve IP tracking, you can bypass such restrictions simply by using a fake IP address, such as via a proxy or VPN.
4. Bypass Georestriction/Internet Censorship
Content censorship is a major restriction adopted by most governments. Sometimes, this is done to hide facts from the public, while, in other cases, the authorities simply work towards building a narrative by allowing specific information only.
However, as a free human with a free mind and soul, it is your right to fight for freedom of internet and bypass region-based censorship. For this, you can choose any method to hide your IP address.
5. Avoid Ad Targeting
The reason why I prefer to hide my IP is to block ads. Most advertisers track users’ IP addresses for ad targeting. Since I don’t like ads, I don’t want these websites to spam me with ads.
6. Browse Anonymously
Last, but not the least, it is your right to protect your online privacy and stay under the radar of cybercriminals. For this, you need to browse anonymously that is only possible when you mask your IP.
Can I Hide My IP Address From My ISP?
I know many of you would have this question in your mind, to which, a straightforward answer is – ‘NO’! You can never ever hide your IP address from your ISP.
Obviously, I cannot hide a detail from someone who actually provides it to me.
However, I can hide my online activities from the ISP if I hide my IP online. Though, my ISP will still have my local IP address. But my online activities can only be tracked through my public IP address, which I can easily conceal.
So, you see, by obscuring your IP address, you certainly achieve your goal of staying anonymous even from your ISP.
An IP address is a crucial element to protect your privacy and security. Leaking this detail to the threat actors not only makes you vulnerable to cyber attacks but also risks your physical security.
Nonetheless, by using one of the ways I shared, you can also hide your location and the IP address from the bad actors, just like I hide my IP and protect myself.
Enjoy safe browsing!