WHAT IS AN IP ADDRESS?
IP stands for Internet Protocol, which is essentially the system that enables data to move across the internet. An IP Address refers to the address given to a specific device that is connected to the internet. Every single device that is connected to the internet, whether it’s a desktop computer, smartphone, laptop, or tablet, has a unique IP address.
When a device is connected to the internet, Internet Protocol utilizes the address of that device to know where to send and receive information from. And, yes, this activity is often tracked. That’s why after conducting a search about kitchen tables, for example, you’ll suddenly see ads for kitchen table retailers popping up on other sites you visit.
Getting personalized ads isn’t such a terrible thing, and it can even make your browsing experience more pleasant. But that really isn’t the main reason many people want to know how to hide their IP address.
Watch this video to learn what IP address is, why IP address is important and how to protect it from hackers:
To protect your computer from hacking through IP Address you should use a proxy server or a VPN.
Example of an IP Address
The dark web refers to encrypted online content that is not indexed by conventional search engines. The dark web has an illegal online market where criminals can deal in illegal and illicit goods. Many of these exchanges take place using the online cryptocurrency bitcoin, which makes it harder for the authorities to track and capture people participating in these transactions.
In 2018, after a yearlong government operation, agents working with the Department of Homeland Security posed as weapons dealers in order to gain access to the computers of suspects who were trying to purchase weapons illegally.1 This allowed them to gain access to IP addresses, which they used to track down the geographical locations of additional suspects who were using the dark web.
This isn’t the first time IP addresses have led to arrests. In 2012, police used IP addresses to track down and arrest members of the hacking group Lulzsec. Using warrants to obtain information from the Internet Service Provider (ISP)law enforcement personnel were able to track down the physical addresses of the hackers and arrest them for their illegal internet activity
How an IP Address Works
An IP address allows computers to send and receive data over the internet. Most IP addresses are purely numerical, but as internet usage grows, letters have been added to some addresses.
There are four different types of IP addresses: public, private, static, and dynamic. While the public and private are indicative of the location of the network—private being used inside a network while the public is used outside of a network—static and dynamic indicate permanency.
A static IP address is one that was manually created, as opposed to having been assigned. A static address also does not change, whereas a dynamic IP address has been assigned by a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server and is subject to change. Dynamic IP addresses are the most common type of internet protocol addresses. Dynamic IP addresses are only active for a certain amount of time, after which they expire. The computer will either automatically request a new lease, or the computer may receive a new IP address.
An IP address can be compared to a Social Security Number (SSN) since each one is completely unique to the computer or user it is assigned to. The creation of these numbers allows routers to identify where they are sending information on the internet. They also make sure that the correct devices are receiving what is being sent. Much like the post office needs a mailing address to deliver a
Reasons It Is Necessary to know how to hide your IP address
It wasn’t too long ago that the main reason people wanted to hide an IP address was so that they could illegally download music and movies without being tracked by sites that monitor such activity. But over the years, many realized that there are many more important reasons to learn how to hide an IP address.
To keep your physical address private
A sophisticated hacker or cyber criminal may be able to discover your approximate location or even your actual physical address using your IP address. Typically, this information isn’t available to just anyone — in fact, you normally need a court order to receive it. But someone utilizing advanced IP lookup tools may be able to obtain a physical address illegally.
To avoid geographic restrictions
Many countries impose harsh censorship protocols on the internet, limiting what sites are available for browsing. China is one example of this. Other countries block copyrighted content that was produced elsewhere. For example, YouTube or Netflix videos that can be viewed in the United States may not be available for viewing in Germany or Ireland. When you hide your IP address, you can sometimes trick the servers into thinking that you are actually connecting to the internet from another country, bypassing the restrictions.
To stop companies from tracking your online activities
Understandably, privacy is a big concern of many. But almost everything you do online can be tracked, and it often is. Many companies track your online activities for consumer research purposes, enabling them to learn more about consumer browsing habits so they can develop better marketing plans. Other companies collect your data and sell it to large research firms that utilize the data for a variety of reasons.
If you don’t want your personal information studied or misused, you’ll definitely want to learn how to hide your IP address. This will stop companies from tracking your browsing habits, as well as prevent ad networks from discovering every product you are interested in. Websites you visit also have the legal right to collect data on your browsing activity pertaining to that site. Again, this is normally used for market research data, but if you want your digital footprint kept very private, you’ll want to hide your IP address.
To stop your ISP from tracking you
Unsurprisingly, your own internet service provider (ISP) also tracks your online activity. Like websites you visit, they have the legal right to do so. Unfortunately, it places your digital browsing data at a higher risk, since you normally don’t have many ISPs to choose from and not all of them are as secure as others.
Additionally, while your ISPs don’t normally sell your data, they could provide marketing research firms and advertising networks with your data if they chose to. When you hide your IP address, you not only prevent third-party companies from tracking your activity, but your ISP as well.
Keep your searches private
If you don’t want friends or other family members looking through your search history, chances are you don’t want complete strangers and unknown companies studying it either. Major search engines such as Google and Yahoo! automatically track every single search query you make, as well as what sites you visit, what links you click, how long you spend on a particular web page, etc.
When you learn how to hide your IP, you can stop the search engines from connecting any searches you make with your particular IP address. As an added measure, you can use the private browsing option that most browsers offer as a feature today.
Keeping your searches and online activity private is also important if you conduct a lot of private and sensitive research for a particular profession, such as law enforcement or investigative journalism.
How to hide your IP address
There are essentially two methods you can choose from to hide your IP address. One is using a proxy server and the other is using a Virtual private network (VPN) Either one will be sufficient, but there are a few cons associated with proxy servers that make VPNs a more optimal choice for many.
What is a proxy server?
Imagine internet traffic moving along major roads and highways. As an example, suppose you begin a search on Google. That is your starting destination. When you click the link on one of the search results, your data moves along a route until it reaches the next destination, the link you clicked on. This continues until your browsing activity is done for the session.
The data moving from one point to another is routed through different servers. Consider them something of an internet checkpoint. Each server logs your activity and your IP address. And so a complete route of your internet activity is recorded by various servers and websites and other companies.
When you use a proxy server, it is like driving those internet roads and highways in a secure, private limousine with darkly tinted windows. The limousine, which is the proxy server, has a different IP address than your current device that is connected to the internet. The servers, search engines, and other companies see only the IP address of the proxy server, and not your own.
Pros and cons of a proxy server
The main reason people use proxy servers is to hide an IP address. All your internet activity is routed through the proxy server, keeping your own IP address hidden from prying eyes. Using a proxy server also improves security since it adds an extra layer of protection against hackers. And, if you want to browse the internet anonymously, using a proxy server is one of the best ways to hide your identity.
One of the biggest drawbacks of using a proxy server is that even though you are able to visit websites anonymously, the proxy server can still cache sensitive information such as the usernames and passwords you use to access an online account. If you choose to use a proxy server, you’ll either want to avoid signing into private accounts or choose a proxy server with high levels of security.
Some inexpensive proxy might be incompatible with other server networks or your ISP. Or, you may be consistently annoyed by pop-up ads. It’s recommended you do your research before choosing a proxy server to ensure that you select one that offers a strong combination of reliability and security.
What is a VPN?
A virtual private network works in a somewhat similar fashion to a proxy server. When you connect your devices to a VPN before going online, your device will appear to be on the same network that the VPN is operating on. Your internet traffic data will be sent to the VPN via a secure connection and routed appropriately to the sites you intend to visit, effectively making your own IP address private and hidden.
These days, it is recommended that anyone wishing to improve the security of their devices and internet activity utilize a VPN. This is especially true if you often engage in internet activity while using public Wi-Fi. Accessing private accounts when using public Wi-Fi is a huge security risk, but when using a VPN, it offers much more protection from hackers. The VPN connection is encrypted and secure.
How do you install a VPN?
Installing and setting up a VPN is fairly simple, which is another reason they have become increasingly popular for people who want to hide an IP address. With most VPNs, all you need to do is install the software or download and install the app. You can do this for both computers and mobile devices, so that you can protect as many devices as possible.
Once the application is installed, you simply need to create an account and sign in. Then, when you are ready to use your VPN, you’ll start the VPN before going online. The VPN will connect to the closest server, but you can select servers in other areas or countries if that suits your purpose.
Pros and cons of a VPN
VPNs are great tools for securing your data, such as private messages, passwords and usernames, financial information, and anything else that is a normal part of your digital footprint. Using a VPN not only hides your IP address but also encrypts all the data related to your internet browsing sessions. Some premium VPNs use advanced encryption protocols that make you nearly invisible to anyone else on the internet.
Obviously, VPNs also keep your IP address secure from other entities that track the activity related to it, such as your ISP, search engines, social media platforms, or government agencies. Because your IP address is hidden and your data is encrypted, your online actions will pass undetected through servers.
If you enjoy visiting websites or watching online content that is normally unavailable to you because of geographic restrictions, a VPN can help with that too. A VPN allows you to change the country that your internet traffic appears to be coming from, enabling you to easily connect to data only available in certain countries.
Subsequently, a VPN is a great tool for accessing the internet if you are in a country where many internet actions and websites are prohibited. A VPN with very strong encryption will enable you to conduct normal online activity without fear of repercussions.
Not all VPNs are equal.
There are free VPNs available, but to ensure top levels of security and encryption, you’ll definitely want to use a higher-quality VPN. These typically charge a monthly fee. Take the time to research different VPN providers so that you can familiarize yourself with the different types of features they offer.
Depending on your needs, you may not feel that you need a premium VPN. But be wary of cheap or free VPNs, which usually don’t offer the same levels of security. Free VPNs can also be more congested or will bombard you with ads as you use it.
A reputable VPN, while still being able to see your online activity, will never retain or sell your data. Be sure to read the privacy and security details provided by each VPN you research to make sure that the VPN you choose goes through great efforts to protect your privacy.
Also, keep in mind that a VPN may cause your internet speed to be reduced. Routing your internet traffic through a VPN’s remote servers can result in a slower connection. However, if you value your privacy online, a VPN is definitely worth it.
Other ways to Protect Yourself from IP Address Hacking
Your IP address is an extension of your online identity, so you must be diligent in protecting it through unique passwords, VPNs or adding extra protective layers.
Internet Protocol, also known as the IP address, is the identity of your device in the vast world of the internet. All the traffic to and from your device is maintained with the help of your IP address.
An IP address is just like your house address and is unique for each device. On the surface, it seems quite harmless if someone knows your IP address, but in reality, it can be very dangerous.
You are responsible for all the activities carried out through your IP address and cybercriminals take advantage of it. They hack your IP Address and then use it for various unethical and illegal activities like hacking someone’s account or downloading prohibited content. Your IP address gives the hacker the freedom of using your location for any manipulative task and he can also attack your device with malware.
How can I protect my IP address?
No matter where you are in the world or the nature of your device, your IP address is vulnerable to hacking. Most people are quite ignorant about the security of this simple numeric identity, but it needs to be well guarded.
Here are some practical and easy ways for Protect your IP Address
1. Create Unique Passwords
Your device password is the only barrier that can restrict people from accessing your device.
Some people prefer to stick to the default passwords of their devices, which makes it vulnerable to attack. Like all your accounts, your device also needs to have a unique and strong password that is not easy to decode. Always use a password that is a mix of various upper case and lower case alphabets, numerals and characters. This will help in safeguarding your device against IP address hacking.
2. Restrict All Your Apps
Apps installed on your device are one major source of IP address hacking. Most communication apps like instant messengers and other calling apps are used as a tool by cybercriminals.
It is advised to install minimum calling apps on your device and also change a setting from Public to Private. This way, only those people can see your details who are added in your list. In addition, avoid answering any calls from unknown numbers because as soon as you connect with someone on a call, that person can get access to your device and location details. That information could result in the hacking of an IP address.
3. Be Careful With Phishing Emails and Malicious Content
Most malware and device tracking software are installed on your device through phishing emails.
4.Add Extra Protective Layers
Added layers of security is always a plus be it for yourself or your device. An updated version of any antivirus software or anti-malware is a must because it keeps your device safe from attacking sites and contents.
This software detects any ambiguity in receiving information on the device and also alerts you while clicking on manipulative links. Moreover, they also let you know about any fishy activity taking place on your device ensuring maximum protection. A firewall is another security layer and helps you in protecting your device.
These are simpler ways that are easier to implement for the protection of your device. Just a little vigilance can help you in securing your IP address from hacking.
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