Hiding an IP address is quite simple if you know which tools to use.
If you’re like me, someone who wants to hide my ip in order to get access to geo-blocked sites, negate IP bans and just stay anonymous, keep reading.
Below, I’ve listed 8 fool-proof ways to hide your IP address including keeping your Internet connection encrypted and fully anonymous.
What is an IP Address?
Let’s first get some basics out of the way.
The internet, being nothing more than a vast group of interconnected networks, requires a system to establish communication between these networks. The Internet Protocol, usually referred to as IP, is the principal technology, responsible for this connection. IP is tasked with defining, structuring and delivering information packets from point A to point B.
IP addresses are nothing more than system identifiers. In version four of the internet protocol (IPv4), IP addresses are defined as a 32-bit number; x.x.x.x where x is a value between 0 and 255.
Here are some valid IP addresses:
- 126.96.36.199 – an IP address assigned to Google
- 188.8.131.52 – an IP address assigned to Harvard University
Every system, connected to the internet, has its own address; much like the address of your house or the license plate of your car. Every system has to have a unique IP address, assigned to that machine, and that machine only. This means your phone, your laptop, work computer and your printer, all have different IP addresses.
Every participant of the internet has to have an IP address to connect to it.
The way IP operates, IP addresses are a sensitive piece of information as they pinpoint the location of the systems they are assigned to. This is uncircumventable, as the physical location of the connected machine is precisely the information necessary for the internet protocol to establish the most efficient connection.
This is how I know that any IP, which starts with 140.247 will be assigned to Harvard University and how I know where you are based in, simply by looking at your IP address.
8 Ways to Hide Your IP Address
Check out these six ways to alter your IP address.
1. Get a VPN Software
Probably the best and most convenient way for changing your IP is to choose a good VPN service.
Here’s what VPN does:
- Hide’s your IP address
- Encrypts your internet traffic
- Allows you safely torrent
- Allows you to get access to geo-blocked sites like Netflix and Hulu.
As you can see, the benefits of a Virtual Private Network are precisely the same as the benefits of changing your IP address.
No surprise here; VPNs assign new IP address to systems connected to them. As you connect to a virtual network, you’ll be assigned a second IP address, which spoofs your real one.
Setting up your VPN client takes minutes, and once you’re all set up, connecting to it and thereby changing your IP happens at the click of your button.
“That’s all great, Andrey, but how does a VPN change my IP address?”
Great question – I’m excited to tell you.
While you’re connected to a VPN, the VPN provider will assign you a virtual IP address. While your real IP address will still be used to connect to said VPN, all other traffic will be tunneled through your private network and as such this external traffic will only connect to your second, virtual IP address.
I’m recommending NordVPN ($3.49/mo) because it’s by far the most anonymous and reliable VPN software we’ve tested to date. It’s secure and it doesn’t like your IP address. You can choose from their 1500+ servers (different IP’s). You can read our NordVPN review here.
2. Use a Proxy – Slower than VPN
Proxy servers are great little tools which act as a bridge in the flow of your internet traffic. These man-in-the-middle servers connect your information packets to their desired destination while changing their appearance as they go through the Proxy.
In simpler terms, the Proxy server intercepts your traffic and takes control of your connection. From here, everything you do, the proxy server repeats; it mirrors your behavior. The destination servers (websites you’d like to access) think of the proxy is your traffic.
The beauty of this system is that you can connect to any proxy server in the world.
Say you want to access UK’s BBC. You’ll quickly find out that most of their content is blocked and inaccessible for people outside the United Kingdom. In comes the Proxy server. You connect to a UK based Proxy and voila – for all intents and purposes, you’re henceforth as British as fish and chips.
Proxy servers are very efficient at low profile necessities such as bypassing geo-blocked content or IP restrictions.
Being able to mask your real IP address is where the similarities between VPNs and Proxies end.
While being more than adept at handling Netflix geo-restricted content, Proxies can’t compete with a VPN’s many layers of security. Outside spoofing your IP address, Proxy servers neither encrypt your data nor remove any identifiable markers from it. Proxies will do nothing to shield you from the prying eyes of your ISP, government or anyone with access to your data.
The final big difference between Proxies and VPNs is the former’s lack of encompassing spoofing. While a VPN will encrypt any and all data coming into and out of your system, a Proxy will intercept traffic on a per-application basis.
Say you connect your web browser to a proxy server. Great! You can watch all the Netflix you want, don’t go torrenting files, however. Your torrenting traffic won’t be intercepted by your Proxy and your ISP can easily see what you’re up to.
Further reading: Difference between VPN and Proxy
3. Use TOR – FREE
TOR, named after the original project “The Onion Router” is a free client which anonymously connects you to volunteer-operated network of servers. This enables you to be assigned a new IP address, on the same basis as a VPN client.
Also known as the “dark/deep” web, Tor has the added benefit of enabling you to access websites, otherwise inaccessible with normal browsers. Such “onion” websites have very different domain names as they are mostly randomly generated.
Check out the domain name of the anonymity search engine DuckDuckGo:
TOR being a widely accessible, free and anonymous network, it has become a hub for criminal activity. Also one of the reasons why you may be put on a “list” if you access TOR, a big chunk of the network’s users connect to it to carry out illegal transactions. From false identities to heavy drugs and even weaponry.
Another big drawback of TOR is the extremely slow loading times. These long loading times are predicated on the inefficient and long-winded routes that your data packets are sent on, relayed from server to server, until they finally hit their destination. This, of course, is all done in the name of safety.
Make no mistake, TOR isn’t entirely foolproof. Certain software vulnerabilities and website admin errors can and are exploited by Government agency.
Further reading: Tor vs. VPN (What is the difference)
4. Multiple Layers of Connection – Slow but secure and anonymous
Using multiple layers of connection for privacy and security involves combining different technologies like VPNs, proxy servers, and the Tor network. This approach adds extra layers of encryption and IP masking, making it more difficult for anyone to track your online activities or determine your real IP address. Let’s delve into how this can work:
VPN Over Tor
How it Works: This setup involves connecting to a VPN service after your traffic has already been routed through the Tor network. Essentially, you first connect to the Tor network, and then the traffic from the Tor exit node goes through a VPN.
- Enhanced Anonymity: Your ISP can’t see you’re using Tor, as the traffic they see is only between you and the VPN.
- Website Anonymity: Websites see the VPN’s IP address instead of the Tor exit node’s IP, which can be useful since some websites block Tor exit nodes.
- Additional Encryption Layer: The VPN encrypts your data even after it leaves the Tor network, adding an extra layer of security.
- Speed Reduction: Both Tor and VPNs reduce internet speed, so using them together can lead to significant slowdowns.
- VPN Trust Required: You must trust the VPN provider because they can see your traffic after it exits the Tor network.
Tor Over VPN
How it Works: In this configuration, you first connect to a VPN server, and then use the Tor network. Your internet traffic is encrypted by the VPN and then routed through the Tor network.
- ISP Cannot See Tor Usage: Your ISP and anyone monitoring your local network can’t tell you are using Tor, as they only see encrypted VPN traffic.
- Access to Tor-Blocked Services: Some services block Tor exit nodes, but with this setup, you can access those services, as the VPN IP is what the service sees.
- Speed Issues: Similar to VPN over Tor, the combined use of both services can significantly slow down your internet connection.
- Entrusting VPN Provider: The VPN provider won’t know what you’re doing inside the Tor network, but they will know that you are using Tor.
How it Works: This involves using multiple proxy servers in a row. Your traffic is routed through several different proxies, making the tracking of your original IP more complicated.
- Layered IP Masking: Each proxy server masks your IP with its own, adding layers of IP addresses that need to be unraveled to trace back to you.
- Can Be Combined with VPN/Tor: Proxy chains can be used in conjunction with Tor and/or VPNs for even more layers.
- Complex Setup: Setting up proxy chains can be technically challenging.
- Variable Security: Proxies don’t necessarily encrypt your traffic, so the level of security depends on the types of proxies used and their configurations.
- Trust and Jurisdiction: Always consider the trustworthiness and jurisdiction of the VPN or proxy providers.
- Legal Implications: Be aware of the legal implications in your country when using such methods.
- Purpose and Needs: Tailor your approach based on your specific privacy and security needs.
Using multiple layers of connection can significantly enhance privacy and security, but it’s important to understand the complexities and potential trade-offs, particularly in terms of internet speed and trust in service providers.
5. Use Mobile Network (Mobile Data Tethering) – Slow and not encrypted
A quick way to change your IP address, if you fear yours has been compromised, is to use your cell phone’s data. As it’s a different system, it will have a different IP address.
This, of course, is no substitute to a laptop/PC workstation. It may aid you in rare emergency situations, when your IP is obviously being attacked, but outside of that, relying on Mobile Data is both ineffective and short-sighted.
Mobile data tethering, also known as mobile hotspot, is a method to share your smartphone’s cellular data connection with other devices like laptops, tablets, or other phones. This can be done via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB. Here’s a detailed overview:
How Mobile Data Tethering Works
- Activation: You enable the tethering feature on your smartphone. This turns your phone into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Connection: Other devices can connect to this hotspot just like they would connect to any Wi-Fi network.
- Data Usage: The connected devices use your mobile data plan for internet access. This means any data they use will count against your mobile data quota.
- IP Address: Each device connected to the mobile hotspot gets a different IP address, which is assigned by your mobile network. This IP address will be different from your home or office network IP address.
- Convenience: It’s a quick and easy way to get internet access, especially when you’re away from a Wi-Fi network.
- Portability: As long as you have mobile network coverage, you can set up a hotspot anywhere.
- Security: Using your own mobile data can be more secure than public Wi-Fi, as it’s less susceptible to common Wi-Fi threats.
- No Need for Additional Equipment: Unlike other methods like a dedicated mobile hotspot device, tethering doesn’t require any extra hardware.
- Data Usage and Limits: Mobile data plans often have data caps and can be more expensive than regular broadband. Heavy usage can quickly deplete your data allowance.
- Battery Drain: Tethering can significantly drain the battery of your smartphone.
- Speed Limitations: Mobile data speeds can vary greatly depending on your location, network congestion, and signal strength.
- Device Limitations: Some mobile carriers or plans might restrict tethering or charge extra for it.
- Emergency Internet Access: When your regular broadband is down, tethering can be a quick alternative.
- Traveling: Useful for travelers who need internet access on devices like laptops but don’t have access to secure Wi-Fi.
- Temporary Setup: Ideal for situations where you need a temporary internet connection for a short period, like in a meeting or conference outside the office.
- IP Address: The IP address you get when tethering will be different from your home network’s IP. It’s assigned by your mobile carrier and can change.
- NAT and Firewall: Your phone acts as a router, which means it will likely use NAT (Network Address Translation) and may have its own firewall settings that could impact connectivity for certain applications.
- IPv4 vs. IPv6: Depending on your carrier, you might get an IPv4 or IPv6 address, which can have implications for certain applications or services.
In summary, mobile data tethering is a versatile method to access the internet on the go, offering convenience and portability. However, it’s important to be mindful of its limitations, particularly regarding data usage, speed, and battery life.
6. Connect to Public Wi-Fi – Not Secure
As IP addresses don’t travel with you, using your laptop to connect to a coffee shop’s open Wi-Fi network is an easy way to change your IP address. Same as with Mobile Data, this is neither an effective IP change method, nor a sustainable way of surfing anonymously & securely.
Unfortunately, there are many risks when using such open hotspots networks.
7. Call Your Internet Service Provider
The bitter truth is that we have zero influence on what IP address our systems get assigned to. We can only ask or force our Internet Service Providers to change our IPs for us.
There are two types of IP addresses that your ISP will assign to you. Static and Dynamic. A static IP is difficult to change as you’ll have to go through a lengthy process with your ISP. Most internet providers will, fortunately, assign dynamic IPs.
Asking nicely, so Mom thought me, is always step one. Calling up your ISP and simply asking for an IP change will often do the trick, though you may have to face some unexpected and forward questions as to your motivation behind such a request. Telling them you’re teaching son or younger brother the basics of networking, seems to do the trick.
Force an IP change by unplugging your modem
If being nice fails, an easy way to attempt to force an IP change by your ISP, is to unhook your modem and reconnect it after a little while. By severing your connection to your ISP, you’re very likely to be assigned a new IP range. This only works if you operate on dynamic IPs, however. You also have to remain disconnected from the internet for many hours to prompt a change in IP address.
Here are some additional steps you can take on Windows before unhooking your Modem:
Windows system connected via cable
- Open Command Prompt as Administrator
- Type “ipconfig /release“, without the quotes and hit Enter
- Type “ipconfig /renew“, without the quotes and hit Enter
- Shut down your system.
- Turn off all ethernet hubs/switches.
- Unplug cable/DSL modem.
- Leave off as long as you can bare (overnight)
- Turn everything back on.
Windows system connected via router
- Log into the router’s admin console.
- Release the IP address (Every router is different, Google yours)
- Shut down your system.
- Turn off all ethernet hubs/switches.
- Unplug cable/DSL modem.
- Leave off as long as you can bare (overnight)
- Turn everything back on.
Are you chuckling yet? I sure am 🙂
I’m not saying the above doesn’t work – it works just fine. I’m saying I’m not about to dial my phone and sit on hold for half an hour or disconnect myself from the internet every time I want to change my IP address.
With ISP’s selling my browsing history to the highest bidder, I sure wouldn’t trust them to help me out either.
Effective? Yes! Practical? Heck No!
Unfortunately for you and me, this about sums up the ways we can change our IP address. Sure, there are others, more technical ones. If you’re an expert in networking you can modify your router and force a dynamic IP change that way – but that’s neither simple, nor quick, nor guaranteed.
Changing IP addresses simply isn’t the way to go, hiding them, however, is another story entirely 🙂
Why Hide IP?
It is very much in our interest to make sure no wrong-doers ever get their hands on such an important identifier as our IP Address. Let’s take a look at the main reasons why you would want to hide your IP address.
1. Hide Your Location
As mentioned above, your IP address functions much like the street address of your home; it tells the Internet Protocol where to send your requested information packets. This is predicated on the IP’s ability to pinpoint your exact location, enabling it to connect you to your nearest network and from there to the world.
Here is a list of geo-location information that your IP address harbors:
- ZIP code
- Longitude and latitude
Pretty scary to think that a criminal could have access to your GPS coordinates by simply finding out your IP, isn’t it?
2. Circumvent IP restrictions
Being a very precise location identifier, your IP address is often used to block you from accessing certain information which someone has deemed inaccessible for you.
When governments like those in China, Russia and, Yes, the United States restrict access to certain websites and services by blocking their nation’s IP addresses, “spoofing, the act of masking your IP address, comes in handy.
From journalists to activists and your everyday person, nobody should be oppressed and restricted to share their views in the information era.
Colleges and universities also love to meddle with their student’s internet access. Many schools have banned online video game servers from being accessed. This means no League of Legends, World of Warcraft, CS:GO and so on.
I guess these students are mature enough to rack up $200K in debt for a four-year degree, but giving them access to online games? That’s too much.
Circumventing such IP restrictions is important to make sure you, and only you, get to decide which content you’d like to access.
3. Negate IP Bans
Banning your IP address is an easy way for websites and services to immediately block your access to them. This quickly becomes a problem as you try to connect to your paid-for Netflix account, a service which blocks any and all IPs outside the USA from accessing their US library of moves and TV shows, when you’re sitting in your hotel room overseas.
Spoofing or changing your IP address is a quick and easy way of loopholing your way back into services you’ve been mistakenly or unjustly banned from.
4. Block Targeted Attacks
Hiding your IP address quickly becomes a must-do security step once you’ve been targeted by a cyber-criminal, who is after your personal records.
By changing your vulnerable IP address you can throw off and block this specific type of cyber attack on your system.
5. Remain Anonymous on Internet
Anonymity is to be expected, not asked for. Well, not anymore.
When our Congress passes bills, allowing Internet Service Providers to sell your private web surfing data & browsing history to the highest bidder, retaining anonymity in an ever-shrinking world seems all the more precious and important.
Changing your IP address is one of many security steps as you embark on the journey of securing yourself and your data. While there are more comprehensive ways of protection, such as using a VPN, I commend you on your desire and prudence to seek out ways to shield your IP address from hackers and no-gooders.
I sincerely hope this article has helped you find your preferred method of keeping your IP address safe on the inter-webs. Please share it with your friends and colleagues and let me know about your experiences with IP addresses.
Robert from TheBestVPN.com team