We hear the term “IP address” all the time, but most people don’t really know what it means. Similarly, a lot of people don’t know why anyone would need to hide their IP address when they’re online, or how to go about doing that. Don’t worry, guys, I’ve got you covered. This is a guide that will explain everything you need to know about IP addresses, why you should be hiding yours, and how to safely hide your IP address. In the end, you will be easily able to spoof or mask your online location.
An IP address, short for Internet Protocol Address, is a number used to identify network hardware. An IP is how devices communicate with each other on the internet. Computers and computing devices don’t really understand words like we do, they need a numerical identifying value to get where it is you want it to direct you to.
Let’s say I type thevpn.guru into my browser: without the IP address, my computer has no idea what I want to do or where I want to go. This hostname is sent to a DNS which looks up the corresponding IP address so that my computer can understand what it is I am asking for. In a sense, an IP address is simply an address our tech can recognize.
The Different Types of IP Addresses.
Not all IPs are the same: there is a difference between Private and Public IPs and a good reason for why that’s the case.
Private IP Address
If you have a private network at home or at work, then the devices you connect to it communicates with your router via a Private IP address.
As I said before, an IP address is the address of your connected device, it’s how someone can pinpoint your geographic location. However, if you’re on your computer in the living room and your brother is on his phone in the kitchen, did you geographical coordinates really change much? No. The Private IP address is how the devices hooked up to the same router can be distinguished as individual users: In this example, the router knows that there are 2 distinct devices connected to the internet at the same time, even though both devices are in the same geo-location.
Public IP Address
Let’s stick with the example I mentioned above. While your private network can tell that you and your brother are using different devices to connect to the internet, you are both technically connecting from the same place. Both of you have the same public IP address because that’s the address given to your router by your ISP. Your public IPs are the same.
What this means is that every device that connects to the internet has a public AND a private IP address. To keep it simple, the public IP identifies the router and the private IP identifies the individual device. You can find your public IP here.
Why Should You Hide Your IP?
When you hide your IP address, you’re technically hiding the public IP to block people from finding your location. Your location is a very big identifier and can be used to figure out your identity. There are several reasons to want to hide your IP address, but the most common 2 reasons are:
To keep your identity safe. A geo-location is the first step in identifying an internet user, and not a lot of people want strangers or Big Brother to be able to identify them.
To change how the internet reads your location and access geo-blocked websites and applications.
Why should you be concerned with keeping your identity private online? It’s simple, the internet isn’t a very safe space when you consider how many people and organizations want to steal data and information from the average users. You don’t know how this data will be used, you don’t even know how this might affect you in the long run! There’s no reason to risk being super exposed online when cloaking your IP isn’t difficult.
How to Hide Your IP Address Online
To hide your IP, you need a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, re-routes your traffic through a “tunnel” that hides your information and encrypts your data. With a VPN, your real public IP is hidden. The IP that others can see is based on the server you choose to connect to. Simply follow these steps to mask your IP address online:
First, sign up with a VPN service provider.
Download and install your VPN on your PC, Mac, Android, FireStick, iPhone, or iPad.
Next, launch the application and sign in.
Finally, select one of the VPN servers and connect to it.
Check your IP address via a website like WhatIsMyIP.network to make sure a change has been made.
Your public IP address is now hidden. You will appear to be browsing the web using the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to instead.
One of the leading VPN providers, ExpressVPN is a super fast and exceptionally secure VPN. It has 2000 servers spanning 94 countries, the highest levels of encryption protocols to keep your information safe, and supports P2P file sharing! With the 30-day money-back guarantee and a 24/7 customer service, ExpressVPN easily tops my list. Read this review to learn more about ExpressVPN.
While it has fewer servers than some of the other VPNs on this list, BulletVPN has unlimited P2P/Torrenting, incredible download speeds, and excessive security protocols. They also have a 30-day refund policy to help you make an informed decision. Here are some more details about BulletVPN.
Another VPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee is NordVPN. NordVPN’s killswitch feature, 24/7 support, and P2P friendly servers with malware protections make this a great security tool to use. We also have a detailed review of NordVPN to help you understand its features better.
IPVanish has unlimited P2P file sharing, live chat support, a killswitch feature, and a wide selection of servers to choose from. They have a 7-day trial option for you to test out their VPN and see if it works for you. As always, you can read more about IPVanish here.
Final Thoughts – Hiding Your IP address
Honestly, the internet is a scary place. Your IP address is the first indicator of your identity. In the age of cybersecurity threats, why would you want anyone to know who you are? A VPN might not have been a vital internet tool before, but it’s definitely an important safety measure now. Let me know which VPN tickles your fancy the most in the comment section, and tell me how you keep your identity safe when using the internet.
A reader, writer, and avid internet user. Hiba has spent the better part of her adult life looking for ways to have a safer and more user-friendly online experience, all while praising the uses of VPN connections to anyone who would listen.