Most of us simply browse the internet, use our favorite apps, and download content without thinking much about it. At this point, the internet is so ingrained that it’s hard to imagine our lives without it. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember what makes the internet work and what’s going on behind the scenes when you are watching your favorite Netflix shows. IP addresses are the fundamental backbone of your online experience. So what are they? And what information do they reveal about you? Let’s take a look.
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What is an IP Address?
IP addresses are unique strings of numbers assigned to every device using the internet (read more here). These numbers are the backbone of the internet and allow computers to communicate with each other.
Your IP Address is Open to the World
You can see this easily when you Google “what is my IP.” Every website you visit logs your IP information for its own uses. Since IP addresses are so vital in connectivity, you will always need one to go online. However, you can take steps to conceal or randomize your IP address.
What Does Your IP Address Reveal?
Not too much and not too little. While IP addresses will not publicly reveal a user’s name or home address, it does provide information such as an approximate location and a person’s internet service provider. Crafty hackers can then exploit this information to learn more about people or break into their personal devices.
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There’s More Behind the Scenes
Your IP address is still a record of you. Although publicly other users may only be able to see your ISP and approximate location, your ISP does have a record of your browsing history and personal details.
Who’s Interested in this Information?
There’s no shortage of people interested in your IP information:
- Law enforcement uses IP addresses to find scammers and other types of criminals.
- Retailers often use IP lookups to verify someone charging money to credit cards is actually in the right zip code and not an overseas credit card thief.
- You can even use IP addresses to check the identity of someone to see if they really are from where they say they’re from.
Why Should I Hide My IP Address?
Everybody is entitled to their privacy. Even if you have nothing to hide, you still do many things online that you might not want a bunch of strangers knowing about. Concealing an IP address isn’t just for cybercriminals, but for everybody looking to protect their privacy and security. The best way to think about it is that revealing your IP address is like leaving your front door open. Even if you live in a safe neighborhood, it just makes sense to keep the door closed and locked.
Some Bonuses of Hiding Your IP Address
Hiding your IP address doesn’t just increase your privacy and security, but also has a range of other benefits. Online retailers use location-based pricing, raising and lowering their prices accordingly. That means that prices for the same things, like airline tickets and games, might vary by tens or even hundreds of dollars simply based on your IP address.
Likewise, many countries have geo-restrictions on certain content. Even huge platforms like Netflix have vastly different catalogs depending on what country you are in. When you hide your IP address, you can work around this and get the most out of your online experiences.
How Can I Hide My IP Address?
You can use a few different strategies. If you are looking for something quick to get a little more privacy on a public network, then you can use a proxy. There are tons of free ones on the internet but know they provide the most minimal layer of protection and can be easily cracked. Another option is using TOR, which is highly secure, but extremely slow. Also, many criminals use TOR for illicit purposes, so using it may put you on a government watch list.
The best way to hide your IP is by using a VPN. A VPN or virtual private network anonymizes your IP address while encrypting your connection with the best security technology. You can use one on any device, and they come with a variety of other great benefits. Best of all, many offer a free trial period, so you can see it if it’s a good fit for you. So start protecting your privacy and download a VPN right now.
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