The first identity that people get when they are born is their name. Then it is all numbers from there. You will get your school admission number, and then a driver’s license number. One predominant global coming of age ritual is getting a social security number or identification number from the government. When you go online, internet protocol will also issue you an IP address.
Your IP address is not a simple random number. It is mathematically produced by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and allocated to every gadget with an online connection. IP addresses are finite and are assigned by your ISP, such that most people rarely think of hiding IP address protocols until the need arises.
What information does an IP address reveal?
Your IP address is your computer’s online identifier and can show details such as your geographical location, with remarkable accuracy. Since an IP address acts as an online phone number, an adversary or advertiser can use it to track you with ease. Every hacker that needs access to your computer for malicious activity needs to know your IP address first.
Some people need to hide from oppressive or watchful governments and cannot do so if they cannot protect their IP number. Some careers, also such as investigative journalism, may require you to keep your IP address secret. Nevertheless, beyond all these reasons, humans have a right to privacy.
We tend to leave so much personal information online, that should not be another person’s business but your own. This is why veiling your IP address is so important. Read more about that in oxylabs blog.
Reasons why you should hide your personal or business IP address
1. To prevent geo-blocks
Some content providers place content restrictions that target specific IP addresses. These restrictions ensure that you cannot access content from their website as long as your IP address shows that you are in a blacklisted geographical zone. As an illustration, the BBC provides free streaming services for UK residents.
If you want to access this content from any other place in the world, you need to mask your IP address and make it appear as if you are in the British Isles. Other content streaming companies such as Hulu or Netflix stream different content for different countries. If you are paying for the service and do not want to be restricted, you can hide your IP address using proxy servers.
2. To prevent spam ads
Have you ever visited a coffee maker’s website only to realize later that every webpage that you browse has ads of coffee makers on it? This spooky phenomenon means that someone is monitoring your web activity. This person is an advertiser, who tracks web activity so that they can find out what your interests are and then spams you with ads.
Advertisers might use tracking pixels, web cookies, or your IP address to assign you ads suitable for your geolocation and in your native language. These ads can be useful for a chosen few, but you will most likely feel like someone is invading your privacy.
3. To stop hackers
Some criminals track IP addresses not only to find out your location but your ISP as well. They then use this information to initiate phishing attacks that will help them to acquire more personal information about you or your business.
There are cyber stalkers also who track the activity of your IP address over time and collect a lot of personal information about you for nefarious purposes such as scamming. Kidnappers and child molesters have also used IP address tracking and analysis to zone in on potential victims.
4. To prevent DDoS/ DoS attacks
When cybercriminals have access to your IP address, they can use this information to route excessive and unwanted traffic to your servers. Eventually, your web connection will give way, hampering your business activities.
There are attackers who also analyze business IP addresses then encourage the downloading of malware such as apps or toolbars. They then use these tools to collect data or hamper business communications.
5. To protect yourself from lawsuits
If you live in a country where the law takes a very strong stance against online activities such as torrenting, you could suffer a lawsuit quite easily if you access torrents. There are copyright agencies and torrent monitors that track online torrent traffic and can easily pick out an IP address and find out who the internet service provider is.
They will then legally ask for information about your IP address, such as contact details and your data. If your torrent crime warrants it, they will serve you with a DMCA notice or worse sue you.
How can you hide your IP address?
You can use virtual private networks (VPNs) or proxy servers to veil your IP address when online. A VPN does not only hide an IP address but also encrypts your data and web requests to prevent tracking. These networks will, therefore, ensure that you can access websites, download torrents, and access geo-blocked content without any difficulty.
Proxy servers, on the other hand, do not have encryption features, but they act as intermediaries between your computer and the internet hiding your IP address. You can, consequently, use a proxy server to gain access to geo-blocked content, access torrents, and scrap websites.
Hiding your IP address has many benefits in a world that is very interconnected. A hidden IP address will go a long way in enhancing online safety. You should, therefore, make the access of VPNs or proxy servers one of the critical features of your data protection and online security policy.