When doing anything on the web, we leave a trace in the form of an IP address. It does not matter if it's just browsing the pages, talking to friends, being active on forums and social networks or other activities that we do every day on the web. If we care for a bit of privacy, it's worth to hide IP on the Internet. We have several options in this matter - some more effective, others less. This article will show you ways to mask the computer's IP address (and not just other devices that connect to the network).
Why is it worth to hide IP? Who can know our identity?
Nowadays more and more aspects of everyday life are moving to the web. We spend more and more time on the Internet, both at work and on entertainment, and by doing more and more everyday affairs. We are bombarded by ads on each side. Each of our network traffic is tracked. We are profiled - our behavior, habits and preferences are carefully analyzed.
Therefore, hiding the IP address , and at the same time our location is becoming an increasingly important element of everyday, safe use of the network. If we do not conceal and hide our real IP address, tracking us or making our lives uncomfortable will not be a problem for determined people. This does not apply only to situations in which we criticize a company, politics or some "celebrity", but also if we accidentally share a file or when we play online or broadcast online, and someone will know our IP address and decide to perform a DDOS attack.
Despite the fact that we do not subscribe to anything on the Internet under all names and surnames, everything we do in it leaves a mark . This is the IP address. The track after us remains in the server logs. Each action, action or comment added to the page is assigned to the IP address of the device it comes from.
Even if we share the IP address with other network users - using, for example, the estate network, our internet provider stores accurate logs and information about connections. Based on these logs, it will be able to identify a person who performed a particular activity on the network at a given moment, even if it used a shared IP.
The most important arguments for hiding an IP address in the network are:
- protection against leaving digital traces everywhere
- protection against targeting and profiling based on an IP address
- bypassing regional blocks and restrictions imposed on IP addresses assigned to a specific location
- the opportunity to take advantage of better prices or offers, for example, airline tickets
- secure use of P2P and torrent networks
- protection against DDOS attacks - during live broadcasts eg on Youtube or during multiplayer games, when others can get to know our IP eg using TS (TeamSpeak)
How to hide IP using VPN
One of the best ways to protect our privacy on the Internet is to use VPN. With its help, we can hide the IP of the computer and other devices connecting to the network.
The operation of VPN is based on the creation of an encrypted tunnel between our device and a special proxy server. Thanks to this, our IP address is visible only for this server, and for the "rest of the world" we are visible using the changed IP address , which is assigned to the proxy server. Our IP address remains hidden, just like network activity. An internet provider who in a normal situation has the ability to analyze and monitor the behavior of users, only sees encrypted data transmission between our device and the VPN server. You can read more about this in our article, in which we explain what it is and how the VPN works .
VPN has the advantage that we can configure it on almost any device:
- desktop computer and laptop (supported by Windows, macOS and Linux)
- phone and tablet (with Android and iOS)
- in the browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari)
- on the router, securing the whole home network
Why VPN will be the best in this situation? The most important arguments for his choice are:
- allows you to choose the country you want to connect to the Internet
- allows you to easily and quickly hide the real IP and free change of IP - just choose a different server
- it provides a high level of protection for connection to the network thanks to strong encryption
- you can use it to secure the entire network connection coming from the device, through which we connect to the network
- connection to the VPN can be configured on the router
- We will not experience a significant loss of speed and quality of Internet connection
There are many VPN services available on the market, some better, others worse. Of course, you can configure your own VPN server yourself, eg on a VPS or dedicated server, but then it will not protect your privacy too much - after all, we own this server. In the case of buying a service from a supplier, we are one of thousands of users using their rich database server, from which we can freely choose.
Below are the VPN service providers who in the case discussed here - i.e. masking the IP address, will best fulfill their role. All VPN providers presented below do not log any users' activity, they enable the use of the OpenVPN protocol (the safest one), they have a large selection of servers and have user-friendly client applications.
Using a VPN boils down to installing a special application on your device - a computer, tablet or phone. We can treat it only as a program to hide IP , but also as a tool to increase daily security on the web.
And other ways?
VPN is not the only way by which we can change the IP address, but for everyday use of the network - the most convenient and the best . The other two methods are using a proxy or tor . Unfortunately, they are not without flaws.
A proxy server is simply an intermediary server. A VPN can be said to be a more secure and advanced form of proxy server.
Proxy servers can be divided into:
- transparent, that is, those that pass on full information about the users using them (including the IP address)
- anonymous, that is, those that do not provide information about the user
- highly anonymous, that is, those that do not provide information about the user and mask the fact that he uses a proxy
With the help of an anonymous proxy we can hide the IP address, however, it brings with it several inconveniences and disadvantages. First of all, the proxy does not provide the same level of encryption as in the case of VPN. Speed can also (but does not have to) be very weak. In addition, proxy connections will in most cases be configured only at the application level, not for example at the entire system level.
You can use a proxy gate for occasional proxy use. One of the VPN providers described in our site, hide.me offers the possibility of using a free proxy gateway , through which we can visit private websites (hiding IP).
Using a proxy that we are not sure about (that is, we do not know who manages the server and who it belongs to), can make our data, which we send through it fall into the wrong hands. There is a reason why we can find many free proxies on the network (of which there are a lot of Russian or Chinese). Very often they serve as a trap, which is supposed to make people use them, and their owners will be able to capture data - logins, passwords, credit card numbers or other confidential data. If we decide to use free proxies to hide the IP - it is provided that the services and websites that we will visit will use the HTTPS protocol.
We discussed the question of Tor (or The Onion Router) and the privacy we provide in the text in which we explain what Tor is . Tor is a solution that works well in some situations, while in others it will not be the best way to hide an IP address.
First of all, the connection with Tor takes place mainly through the client - the Tor browser. As the name suggests, this is a browser, so with her help we will be able to mask the IP only where we would normally use the browser. We do not hide its location, for example in P2P networks. In addition, Tor is free. Much slower than VPN and proxy servers, which may prevent convenient use of the network. It also does not give you such a free choice of the location through which you want to connect to the network.
How effective is hiding IP?
The weakest link in all privacy tools is the user and it depends on him how effective they are. If we always logged in to some service via VPN, proxy or Tor, and once we accidentally log in without protection, we will leave our real IP on the server. We will leave a trace. Therefore, VPN client applications are most often equipped with so-called killswitch - a security switch - depending on the implementation, it is based either on the total blocking of the network connection in the event of loss of connection with the VPN or automatic shutdown of specific and selected applications by the user. You should also remember about such phenomena as IP leak and DNS leak .
You can protect your privacy on the network by hiding the IP address and there are several ways to do it. The one you decide on should focus on the extent to which you want to protect your privacy and to what extent. With the help of VPN, you can effectively secure your entire connection to the network regardless of which device you use. The track will hide the real IP address where an ordinary browser is enough - but you have to take into account its disadvantages. Proxy is unfortunately quite a risky move - unless you are sure that no one with impure intentions is behind the server.