Whenever you visit a website, you leave a trail of activity in the form of your device IP address. This IP address is also the public IP address, which is assigned by your ISP (internet service provider). But at times you do not want to expose yourself to the outside world and wants to hide IP address. Some of the practical scenarios include getting past of geo restrictions on accessing a website which might have blocked IP address of your country. Technically, it isn’t possible to remove your Public IP from the public view. Also, you have no control over your public IP address as you are at the mercy of your ISP. But you can hide IP address with the help of VPN, proxy or TOR.
If your public IP remains hidden, then it would be impossible to trace your online activity. Hiding your public IP would also maintain your privacy and help you remain anonymous online.
Moving ahead in this article, you will understand everything about public IP address and also how to hide IP address.
Why do you want to hide IP address?
All such scenarios create an opportunity where you would like to hide your IP address to create some workaround.
Also, sometimes you want to remain anonymous while browsing the internet. For instance, if you are visiting some suspicious website then you want to leave your IP details for reverse tracking. Several government agencies are using different technologies to accomplish such task.
You must have heard of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower. He himself used TOR when he wanted to reveal some secrets to the outside world.
What is your Public IP?
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns you an IP address which is known as your public IP address. If you are using a wireless router then it will have two IP address as public IP address and private IP address.
Private IP address manages the internal network of your devices such as a laptop, smartphone, wireless printer, etc. On the other hand, public IP address connects the router with the outside world.
Whenever you request to visit a website, your ISP sends this request to the targeted web server via public IP. The target server then returns the required data via your public IP address to the private IP address.
How is the Public IP assigned?
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) produces and provides the public IP addresses to your ISP in blocks. Further, your internet service provider allocates a unique IP address to your device. Allocation of IP address could be dynamic or static.
Dynamic IP address always changes with time. Static IP address will never change but it is quite difficult to get a static IP address from your ISP on a home network. Static IP address costs huge money and also, such requests are catered to a corporate environment.
Traditionally, IANA has been using IPv4 or 32-bit IP addressing system. That would mean 2 to the power 32 which is 4294967296 unique IP addresses with that system.
However, with the passage of time, the number of devices connected to the internet increased exponentially. So, more unique IP addresses were necessary. Thus, IANA has now adopted IPv6, which is a 128-bit IP address system.
How to hide IP address?
Now that we have understood that it does not make any sense to place a request to your ISP provider to change the public IP address. Even if they do, it will be temporary change as the allocation is dynamic in nature.
People often suggest using public WiFi hotspots and other such techniques to avoid using your home network. But all such methods are not secured and the probability is high that your device might get hacked by some eavesdropper.
So, it is imperative to move to some effective ways of hiding your IP address such as VPN, TOR, Proxy, etc. But before you know how to hide IP address, do you know what is your public IP address?
You cannot see your public IP address on your device locally since it is on the internet. We have created a web page and by visiting this page you would come to know your public IP address.
VPN can hide IP address
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is your best option regarding hiding your Public IP address. A VPN is the extension of your private network over the public network such as the internet. It creates a virtual tunnel between your device and a VPN server. This VPN server operates from a remote location.
All your internet traffic will be encrypted and will flow through this virtual tunnel. Through the tunnel, it will reach the VPN server. From the remote VPN server, your traffic will reach the target web server.
The requested website will be able to see the request coming from the IP address of the VPN server and not you.
Also, a VPN adds an extra layer of security when compared to a proxy server. Since a virtual tunnel is used to transmit your encrypted internet traffic, there is a rarely a chance of somebody intercepting it. In some cases, VPN service can also offer you static IP addresses at additional cost.
Hide IP address through a proxy server
Proxy servers are helpful tools which act as a bridge between your device and the target server. These servers intercept your request for internet data and send it to the target server on your behalf. So, to the target server, it appears as if the request is coming from the proxy server and not from your device.
Using a Proxy Server is not the most challenging thing to do in the world. It requires a simple configuration of your web browser. The URL and TCP port number are used to distinguish a proxy server. There are a lot of free and paid proxy servers on the internet.
One of the biggest strengths of the Proxy server is that it is accessible from anywhere. For example, suppose you want to watch a TV show which only appears on a UK channel. Mostly, it would be banned for people outside the UK.
Using a proxy server which is based in the UK can easily help you to bypass the restrictions and watch the TV show.
For such applications and by-passing restrictions based on locations, proxy servers are the one to opt for. However, they don’t necessarily provide the security that other options do.
Aside from hiding your IP address, they do not encrypt your data or remove any markers from it.
- Suggested read: Proxy vs VPN – What is the Main Difference?
TOR can safeguard your privacy
The Onion Router or TOR is a free software to safeguard your privacy and anonymity. It routes your internet traffic through circuitous routes. This will make it very difficult for snoopers to track your internet activity.
TOR connects you to a group of voluntarily operated servers around the world. These servers conveniently hide your public IP address and make your digital trail extremely hard to follow.
Instead of a simple request which originates from your computer and ends at the target server, because of TOR, your computer sends out layered requests. Each of these requests has encryption.
These requests will continuously move around from one TOR server to another before finally reaching the target server.
During this process, if someone got hold of your traffic, all they would have is the location of the previous and next TOR server. This is because of the encryption. The intruder wouldn’t know where the request originated or where it will end.
However, because TOR is a free and anonymous network, it has attracted a lot of criminal activity. Additionally, there can be a problem with the speed of the connection. This is because of the long routes taken by the IP packets to reach its intended target.
Final words on how to hide IP address
In our views, a VPN is the best option to hide IP address. Other options such as the Proxy server and the TOR are suitable for short-term tasks such as bypassing geo-restrictions and accessing blocked content. A VPN provides the best long-term solution to the problem as it creates an encrypted communication channel between your system and its server.