We’re surrounded by data collection that ranges from government agencies, as part of national security policies, to companies who want to monitor their market’s purchasing habits.
The desire to protect data privacy isn’t reserved for businesses that must deal with hackers and ransomware. Individuals are also taking a stand against spamming, tracking, and cyberstalking.
Be it for cookies or phishing, when you use the internet, data can be collected on your browsing through your IP address.
Unfortunately, without IP addresses, the internet can’t function. This is why enterprises who wish to protect their business or individuals who want to improve their security when using social media (the biggest source of data collection) now wish to hide their IP addresses and protect their privacy.
An Internet Protocol address is the fingerprint of your internet connection.
There are plenty of valid reasons why businesses and individuals want to limit who has access to information about their online activities. No one wants their data to be in the hands of those who may misuse it.
For example, a company that has made a breakthrough in automation implementation wouldn’t like a hacker to infiltrate their system, steal their work, and sell it to a rival company.
IP addresses act like a fingerprint providing information about the sites you browse, the media you stream, and the products you purchase online.
Companies also want to protect information regarding their business activities, plus their employees’ and customers’ privacy. Ransomware is the most common cyber threat faced by businesses. According to a study by IDC in 2021, 37% of global organizations fell victim to ransomware attacks where their systems were hacked and held hostage.
The increased number of employees working remotely via their private IP addresses has made it imperative for companies to seek means of hiding those IP addresses to protect their businesses and their employees.
Whether you wish to protect your business or you’re an individual who wants to keep their personal information private, there are several reasons you may want to hide your IP address.
When you navigate the internet, every website you visit can access your IP address, see your browsing history, and discover your location.
Hiding an IP address isn’t reserved for concealing illegal activity. It’s simply a matter of taking control of your privacy and limiting access to your data.
You may only want to search for an MLOps definition, but if you want to keep your browsing private, you should be able to do so.
We rely on online services more than ever before, and this will continue to increase. Why would we not want to protect our information from falling into the wrong hands?
Every website you visit collects data about your activities.
Search engines monitor your search data and activity, link it to your IP address, then personalize results and the advertisements they show you.
Websites use a variety of trackers to analyze visitors to the site. Companies may analyze your activities to generate statistics to help improve the online user experience. However, some nefarious enterprises may sell your data to a third party without your consent.
For example, one wrong click could end up with your data being sold to a third party who uses it to send recurring email, spamming your inbox.
Your ISP also keeps track of your browsing activity. You should be able to trust your provider not to spy on you, but many argue it’s best to hide your browsing activity from everyone.
Governments monitor and censor the online activities of their citizens but vindicate their actions when search histories have been used to defend national security or provide evidence as part of a criminal investigation.
Even if you aren’t engaging in illegal activity, many bristle at the idea of Big Brother’s ability to look over our shoulder when we’re online.
Some countries also ban or restrict their citizens’ access to certain websites. Access to Google is still prohibited in mainland China.
The only way around this is to hide your IP address, which will conceal your location and allow you access to any blocked web content.
Digital marketers are the biggest observers of online activity, using it to generate demographic statistics to create targeted marketing and sales campaigns and increase their revenue.
They’re only trying to improve audience development, but many find it a pain and an infringement of their privacy.
Even if you hide your IP address, it’s impossible to escape the data collection because they also use email tracking, surveys, and adverts that help them learn what users do, or don’t, like to do online.
You can make it more difficult for them to develop a complete profile of your online activities by hiding your IP address.
If governments, your ISP, and search engines can track your activity online, so can hackers.
However, they’ll not limit their activity to monitoring your browsing.
Hackers can use your IP address and location to hack into your devices and access a lot more data, such as online banking passwords, take over your social media accounts, and steal your identity.
If you’re a retailer and have applied for a reseller certificate, you will have provided a lot of information about yourself and your company online. While the website was secure, there’s still the chance it could be hacked, and your IP address was stolen if you didn’t hide it.
While you may change your passwords regularly or only purchase items from trusted sites, many prefer the extra layer of protection that hiding their IP address provides.
Many sites restrict access from certain geographical locations. This is common regarding streaming services.
Copyright laws are enforced to prevent access to sites in different countries that provide torrents to download media content. Netflix also restricts access to content from different countries.
If you want to bypass these blockades, you’ll need to hide your IP address and mask your geographical location.
Perhaps you’re a student on vacation, but you want to access your university library while abroad so you can finish your research on neural network resources. You may need to disguise your current IP address behind a local one to access the online library catalog.
Free Wi-Fi is readily available these days and is useful to users on the go or people without an internet connection at home.
However, free and unsecured Wi-Fi networks make it easy for hackers to access the data of unsuspecting users.
If you want to protect your data while browsing when out and about, you need to hide your IP address.
Workplaces and other establishments, like schools and libraries, usually have firewalls in place that restrict access to content via their IP address.
If you want to access restricted content from these locations, mask the IP address to get around the firewall. However, some firewalls are very complex and may not allow your fake IP address to bypass it.
You may have restricted apps from using your location or disabled location services in your settings, but your IP address will still allow anyone to discover your approximate location.
Many fitness fanatics use trackers to monitor their workouts. However, fitness trackers are also a privacy risk. It may not be precise, but it could still allow someone to find your approximate location.
Health guru or not, you may not want others to know your location while you surf the web. A fake IP address is the only way to keep your location private.
You may think you don’t need to hide your IP address because, when you use the internet, you use private browsing or incognito mode.
Incognito mode allows you to surf without worrying about cookies, clearing your history, or being tracked. However, you can’t get away from the fingerprint of your IP address if you don’t mask it.
Even in incognito mode, your browsing is never private. If you want to go beyond incognito, you need the enhanced protection of hiding your IP address.
So, we’ve covered why you should hide your IP address, but how do you do it?
You can’t navigate the internet without an IP address. So if you want to protect your privacy, you need to hide or mask your IP address by concealing it behind a false one.
Here are three options to consider, depending on your needs:
A VPN is a service that encrypts your connection to the internet and hides your IP address.
A VPN encrypts all your traffic, both on your browser and in apps, before connecting with your destination. The destination only sees the IP address of the VPN, hiding your IP address and protecting your data.
For a small monthly fee, you can use a VPN (via a cloud-based app) to protect your online activity—be it surfing, streaming, or using apps—from being tracked via your IP address.
The only party who will see your real IP address is your VPN provider. It’s important to shop around to find a provider that’s well-established, trustworthy, and meets your needs.
Tor is a free network that uses layered encryption to conceal your online identity.
It uses volunteer-run server nodes and can be accessed via the free Tor browser. Each node encrypts your traffic before passing it on to the next until it’s fully encrypted and then sent to the destination. It’s like convolutional neural network layers explained.
While Tor is free, the layers of encryption mean that, while you save money, you lose browsing speed. Each Tor node only knows the IP address of the node preceding it, so it’s very difficult for someone to access your original IP address (compare Tor and VPN)
Proxy servers handle your traffic like an intermediary between you and the internet.
Unlike VPNs and Tor, proxy servers don’t encrypt your data or hide your IP address on its way from your device to the server, so someone could intercept it at that point.
Proxies may be useful as a single-use or short-term option, but they provide limited protection if you’re looking for long-term solutions to your privacy requirements.
It’s impossible to hide your IP address completely, but you can try the above to achieve the level of privacy that meets your needs. (compare VPN and proxy)
If you want to protect your data and privacy in the digital age, you need to hide your IP address.
There are many legitimate reasons for hiding your IP address from third parties, whether you’re an entrepreneur who wants to protect your online business or an individual who wants to avoid targeted adverts.
Whatever your reasons, there are several ways you can hide your IP address that allow you to be proactive when protecting your privacy and keeping you safe.