Have you ever wondered how downloading and browsing on the internet work? It is not rocket science, but depends a great deal on your IP address. We will tell you more about it in this article.
What is an IP Address?
In order to download or browse on the internet, a connection or a pathway is required between the device and the web to transfer the packets of information. Every device that is connected to the internet has a unique IP Address which identifies that particular device’s connectivity to the internet. It comprises of 32-bit characters with a value between 0 and 255 and is generally allocated by your internet service provider.
Each device’s IP address is different and provides a unique pathway for the files to be downloaded from the internet. Whether you are using a Wi-Fi connection or a mobile data connection, each of your devices will have a particular IP address. In simple terms, just as you have a postal address for your house, the IP address is the address for your device through which you browse the internet.
Why Hiding Your IP Address is the Need of the Hour?
Now that you know what an IP address is, it is easier to conclude that your browsing activity can be easily tracked and monitored and that all that is needed is your IP address. Many companies take advantage of this to know more about your tastes and preferences through your IP address in order to run targeted marketing campaigns.
Moreover, many countries have also blocked access to certain websites like Twitter and Facebook for the IP addresses within their geographical region. The question arises – can IP addresses be hidden from the prying eyes of the internet service provider so that you can safely browse the internet without leaving any digital footprints?
Hiding your IP address can have many advantages. Firstly, you can access websites that are geo-blocked by your country. Secondly, hiding your IP address also results in greater safety over the internet and enhanced online privacy.
How Can You Hide Your IP Address?
So, how can you hide your IP address and reap the many benefits of doing so? We have put together a list of easy ways which you can use to hide your IP address and browse the internet anonymously and securely:
A VPN or Virtual Private Network service has become hugely popular lately. It is especially preferred by internet users who frequently have to work on public connections and have to visit different countries where access to their favorite websites is restricted.
A VPN software can be installed on your laptop or mobile phone and acts as an added layer of security over your regular internet service provider.
Though the internet connection will still come from your regular source, the VPN will hide your IP address by re-routing all your browsing through a temporary IP address which may belong to a server located in another continent altogether.
The best part about VPNs is that they provide not just one, but many layers of security without compromising internet speed. VPNs are also definitely the number one way of hiding your IP address and gaining access to restricted websites.
2. Proxy Websites
If you are one of those who does not want to hide their IP addresses on a regular basis but just need to access specific websites without leaving a digital footprint, then you can choose to go for proxy websites.
A proxy website mirrors your internet service provider’s connection and hides your IP address from the website that you are accessing by acting as a bridge between your internet service provider and the website.
For example, if you access a particular website through a proxy, that website will not be able to trace your activity on their forum back to you as the IP Address that they will get will not actually be that of your device but rather that of the proxy website.
Proxy websites are great for getting work done quickly when you are short on time and do not want to wait for a VPN to be set up. Proxy websites are also generally free to use. However, they do slow down the connection substantially and have lesser layers of security as compared to a VPN.
Also known as The Onion Router, TOR is a very complex route of servers through which information is transferred. Unlike a proxy website which is a single bridge between the internet service provider and the website, the TOR route is much longer and complicated resulting in loading times that are very high.
However, TOR is a very much secure route and is one of the most ironclad ways of ensuring that your IP address is completely hidden. In fact, the security features of TOR are so high that it is even used for criminal activities such as trading of drugs and weapons. TOR is free to use and offers 100% anonymity to the browsers. Through TOR, a user can even access websites which form a part of the ‘deep web’ system and which cannot be accessed through a normal browser.
4. Public Wi-Fi
If you really want to hide your IP address for visiting a particular website, you can always connect to the internet through a public Wi-Fi which will automatically change your device’s IP address.
However, you will still get an IP address of the same region that you are residing in and therefore you would not be able to access geo-blocked websites. Moreover, public Wi-Fi connections are also considered to be quite unsafe and therefore while you may have some anonymity in your browsing activity, you cannot be sure of online privacy.
Apart from the above most popular ways of hiding your IP address, you can also simply request your internet service provider to give you a new IP address. This can be done if you feel that your IP address has been compromised and that your activity is being tracked. However, the internet service provider will probably ignore frequent requests for changes of IP address. Alternately, you can also unplug your modem for a few hours so that you are automatically assigned a new IP address when you turn it back on.