How to Hide Your IP Address (and Why You Might Want To)
Your IP address is like your public ID on the internet. Any time you do anything on the internet, your IP address lets servers know where to send back information you’ve requested. Many sites log these addresses, effectively spying on you, usually to deliver you more personalized ads to get you to spend more money. For some people, this is a significant issue, and there are ways to hide your IP address.
Why Would You Need To Hide Your IP Address?
One of the big reasons that people hide their IP addresses is so that they can download illegal material without being tracked. But there are a lot of other reasons you might want to hide it.
One reason is geographic restrictions and censorship. Some content is blocked by the government in certain areas, such as in China and the Middle East. If you can hide your real IP address and make it look like you’re browsing from another region, you can get around these restrictions and view blocked websites. Private companies also often geo-lock their content, making it unavailable in certain countries. For example, this happens a lot on YouTube, where some countries, like Germany, block copyrighted content outright, rather than using YouTube’s monetization model.
The other reason to hide your IP address is simply for more privacy and to prevent misuse of your personal information. Whenever you access a website, the server you connect to logs your IP address and attaches it to all the other data the site can learn about you: your browsing habits, what you click on, how long you spend looking at a particular page. They then sell this data to advertising companies who use it to tailor ads straight to you. This is why ads on the internet sometimes feel oddly personal: it’s because they are. Your IP address can also be used to track your location, even when your location services are turned off.
Here I’ve done a basic IP lookup, which returned my location down to the area of the city in which I live. Anyone with your IP address can do this, and while it won’t give out your actual home address or name to everyone, anyone with access to your ISPs customer data can find you fairly easily.
The spying and selling of user data aren’t limited to websites either. Under US law, your Internet Service Provider (Comcast, Verizon, etc. ) has the right to collect information about you without your permission, just like any website owner does. While they all claim they don’t sell customer data, it is certainly worth a lot of money to ad companies, and there is nothing legally stopping them. This is a major problem, as half of the people on the internet in the US only have one choice of ISP, so for many, it’s either be spied on or go without internet.
So How Do I Hide My IP Address?
The two primary ways to hide your IP address are using a proxy server or using a virtual private network (VPN). (There’s also Tor, which is great for extreme anonymization, but it’s very slow and for most people isn’t necessary. )
A proxy server is an intermediary server through which your traffic gets routed. The internet servers you visit see only the IP address of that proxy server and not your IP address. When those servers send information back to you, it goes to the proxy server, which then routes it to you. The problem with proxy servers is that many of the services out there are pretty shady, spying on you or inserting ads into your browser.
VPN is a much better solution. When you connect your computer (or another device, such as a smartphone or tablet) to a VPN, the computer acts as if it’s on the same local network as the VPN. All your network traffic is sent over a secure connection to the VPN. Because your computer behaves as if it’s on the network, this allows you to securely access local network resources even when you’re on the other side of the world. You’ll also be able to use the Internet as if you were present at the VPN’s location, which has some benefits if you’re using public Wi-Fi or want to access geo-blocked websites.
When you browse the web while connected to a VPN, your computer contacts the website through the encrypted VPN connection. The VPN forwards the request for you and forwards the response from the website back through the secure connection. If you’re using a USA-based VPN to access Netflix, Netflix will see your connection as coming from within the USA.
RELATED: What Is a VPN, and Why Would I Need One?
Okay, How Do I Get a VPN?
Now that you’ve decided that you need a VPN, it’s time to figure out how to get one. There are lots of options, including setting up your own VPN, which is very complicated, or you can even setup your own home VPN—though that doesn’t work if you’re actually at home.
Your best, and easiest option, is to simply get yourself a VPN service from a solid VPN provider. You can find services that range in price from completely free for limited use, like Tunnelbear, to blazing fast and works on all your devices for a small monthly fee like ExpressVPN. We’ve talked before about how to choose the best VPN service for your needs, and that article gives you a lot more information on the topic.
Installing a VPN is as simple as heading to the signup page, downloading the client app onto your device—Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, and Android are all supported by most of the best VPN providers—installing the app, and then logging in. Press the connect button, and you’re magically connected to a VPN on a server somewhere else in the world.
RELATED: How to Choose the Best VPN Service for Your Needs
Image Credits: Elaine333/Shutterstock
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Types of Anonymous IPs and How They Affect Your Business
Anonymous IP addresses (sometimes incorrectly generalized as “proxies”) serve to hide a web user’s true IP address and obfuscate their geolocation. There are legitimate reasons, usually related to privacy or security, to use anonymous IPs, but many businesses find that fraudsters and other bad actors also use anonymous IPs in malicious ways that affect the bottom line.
For businesses selling goods and services online, IP geolocation checks are a fairly easy control to implement. These checks help identify bad orders based on suspicious patterns in the IP location of the transacting user, the billing address, and the shipping address (if applicable). Because of the prevalence of these checks, fraudsters with stolen credit cards use anonymous IPs to spoof locations close to the billing or shipping addresses of the victim (similar to how spam callers spoof your phone’s area code).
Online advertising is another area where anonymous IPs are often used to perpetrate fraud. Fraudsters looking to skim off of payouts from advertisers use bots or other programmatic means to generate fake impressions, clicks, or actions. To achieve the scale necessary to make money off these schemes, anonymous IPs are used to both get in the correct geography to trigger payouts, and to evade controls that detect repeated views and clicks from one or few IP addresses. These same techniques are also used in referral and incentive marketing (e. g. app installs).
Consumers use anonymous IPs to bypass geolocation controls to access media content not available in their country. It is usually incumbent upon media streaming companies to ensure controls for digital rights management related to geographies. Without appropriate controls, there is a risk of loss of content licenses which can to lead to loss of viewers, market share, and revenue.
Types of Anonymous IPs
While anonymous IPs are often referred to as “proxies”, there are several types of anonymous IPs, of which proxies are a subset. The table below provides a summary:
Public proxyProxy servers act as an intermediary between the user and the target server with the IP address of the proxy server being revealed to the target server. Proxies generally do not provide encryption. Different types of proxies (below) differ on technologies used and present trade-offs between speed and security. HTTP proxies operate on an application (e. web browser) basis while SOCKS proxies support proxying traffic on the operating system level.
VPNVPN servers perform the same intermediary role as a proxy. However, VPNs can provide a secure, encrypted tunnel between the user and the VPN server, which provides a higher level of security. Most operate on the operating system level, such that all network traffic is encrypted and sent through the VPN.
HostingWeb hosting services (including shared and VPS) can effectively be used to create private proxies that can then be used by individuals for anonymizing purposes. Some VPN services do not register their own IP ranges and instead use a hosting provider to host their services.
IPs registered to hosting providers may also be associated with legitimate corporate or residential ISP use. As a result, we specifically exclude these uses in our data set to avoid false positives.
TORTOR (“The Onion Router”) is a decentralized system where user traffic is sent between several servers before going through an exit node to reach a target server. The original user IP is obfuscated by the series of relays that take place. TOR exit node IPs are published.
Residential proxy/VPNResidential proxies are a type of proxy that routes through IPs registered to residential ISPs. These are more difficult to detect as some of these may be IoT devices or part of a botnet. Alternatively, these proxies may be part of a peer-to-peer proxy network where users are required to offer their residential connection as a proxy for others in order to get the same functionality in return.
There are also VPN providers that appear to obtain blocks of residential IPs from ISPs in order to provide residential VPN services. In many cases we are able to detect these and flag them as hosting IPs.
Anonymous IPs and Risk – Context is Important
Despite the popularity of anonymous IPs with fraudsters and other bad actors for illegitimate or malicious use, not all anonymous IPs are risky. The true risk of an anonymous IP is dependent on the nature of your business.
More and more people are using VPNs in the wake of several high-profile data privacy scandals that have come to light in the recent past. In some cases, paid VPN subscriptions more than doubled after the breaking of major news stories. According to a GlobalWebIndex report from July 2018, 26% of global internet users used a VPN or proxy server in the last might be using public proxies or personal-use VPNs to access blocked websites from work or school. Users in certain countries use VPNs to circumvent website access restrictions put in place by their governments. Security and privacy conscious individuals will also use VPNs to maintain anonymity and secure their data, especially when using public wifi.
Given increased public attention on privacy and security, and mainstream adoption of VPNs and other anonymizing technologies, it’s even more important for businesses to understand their user traffic profile and strike the right balance between protecting their business from fraud and abuse, and maintaining an excellent user experience. Businesses need to use data to provide context and derive insight on what legitimate user behavior versus illegitimate user behavior looks like for their particular use cases.
MaxMind provides data on anonymous IPs along with a flag to indicate whether the IP is associated with a public proxy, VPN, hosting/data enter, or TOR exit node. This data is updated daily and is available in a downloadable database with our GeoIP2 Anonymous IP database, or in a web service with our GeoIP2 Precision Insights service or our minFraud service.
The GeoIP2 Precision Insights service is MaxMind’s most accurate and comprehensive IP geolocation solution with anonymous IP flags, ISP, confidence factors, user type (e. business, traveler, cellular, etc. ), and more.
The minFraud service provides an IP risk score that represents the relative riskiness of IP addresses (including anonymous IPs) in an e-commerce context. The score is affected by whether we observe transactions from mostly legitimate customers or from fraudsters on an IP address or network. The minFraud service also considers other factors such as the riskiness of other transaction data, such as email address, in order to reduce false positives.
How to hide your IP address (8 ways, 6 are free) – Comparitech
I’ll show you how I hide my IP address as well as several other ways to change or hide an IP address free of charge. Your IP address can be used to track your device and location over the internet, so start hiding your IP now!
@pabischoff UPDATED: March 31, 2021
An IP address is a string of numbers and decimals that identifies your device and location. If you’re connected to the internet, then you have an IP address.
Your public IP address is unique and visible to everyone on the internet, so it can be used to track you and wall you off from region-locked content.
Because I like privacy and dislike censorship, I prefer to hide my IP address from internet providers, hackers, governments, advertisers and others. In this article, I’ll explain a few free and paid methods you can use to hide your IP address, as well as a few ways to change your IP address.
What’s my IP address?
In order to hide your IP address, you first have to know what it is. This is easy; just go to Google and enter “what’s my IP address? ”
You’ll see something like this:
123. 45. 67. 89
Specifically, that’s an IPv4 address. Some of you might have IPv6 connectivity, although it hasn’t been adopted everywhere yet. If your internet provider offers IPv6 on its network, you can look up your IPv6 address as well.
It’ll look something more like this:
For the most part, these two addresses serve the same purpose. If you want to hide your IPv4 address, then you’ll probably want to hide your IPv6 address as well, if you have one.
You can learn more about the differences between IPv4 and IPv6 here, but I won’t get too deep into that in this article.
Your IP address probably changes once in a while due to how the internet works, but you are the only one with your current IP address on the entire internet. Similar to physical addresses, IP addresses allow computers on the internet to find each other and communicate. IP addresses are an integral part of the IP protocol, the foundation on which the internet is built. Again, I’ll sidestep the nitty gritty details on how the IP protocol works.
8 ways to hide your IP address
#1. Use a VPN to hide your IP address
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network is a software service that encrypts all of the data sent to and from the internet and routes it through a VPN server in another location. The VPN server acts as a middleman between your device and the internet, so websites and online apps only see the server’s IP address and not your own.
Most VPNs are subscription services that cost a few dollars per month for access to hundreds or even thousands of servers around the world. You just need to sign up and download the apps for your devices. After that, hiding your IP address just takes a couple of clicks. It’s really easy.
WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE? NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use the VPN rated #1 for security and privacy with no restrictions for a month. This allows you to try its obfuscated servers out for yourself before you commit.
There are no hidden terms, either—just let support staff know within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn’t right for you to claim a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.
If NordVPN. isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you might want to try Surfshark or ExpressVPN. These services have plenty to offer, and come with significant discounts for long-term subscriptions.
Here’s how to hide your IP address:
First off, check your current IP address by Googling, “what’s my IP? ”
Sign up for a VPN. We recommend NordVPN.
Download the VPN app onto your device. Windows and Mac users usually get their app from the provider’s website. iOS and Android users get their app from the App Store and Google Play, respectively.
Install the VPN app and run it.
Sign in using the account credentials you created in step two.
Select a server or server location. Your new IP address will be that of this server.
Click the Connect button or double-tap the server to initiate a connection.
Once the connection has been established, you will have a new IP address. To confirm, Google “what’s my IP? ” Your new IP address should be different than in step one.
Here’s a video of how to hide your IP address with a VPN
Most commercial VPN providers, including NordVPN, use shared IP addresses, meaning that all VPN users connected to the same server are hidden behind the same IP address–that of the VPN server.
A VPN that uses shared IP addresses not only hides your real IP address, it makes you indistinguishable from all the other users. Your online activity cannot be traced back to a single user, adding a significant layer of anonymity.
If you’re serious about hiding your IP address, it’s vital to get a VPN with these features:
Private DNS servers – DNS works like a phone book for the internet by translating domain names like “” into IP addresses that your device can use to communicate. By default, you probably use DNS servers operated by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Google, which can see your IP address when you request a website, even when connected to a VPN. For this reason, it’s important to use a VPN that operates its own DNS servers so you never expose your IP address to a third party.
Leak protection – VPNs are meant to protect all the internet data traveling to and from your device, but sometimes they leak. When they leak, they expose your IP address. Get yourself a VPN that has DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak prevention.
Kill switch – A kill switch or network lock cuts off your entire device from the internet if the VPN connection drops for some reason, preventing anything from being sent from your real IP address without the VPN’s protection.
No-logs policy – The VPN provider should not record or store logs of your internet activity or any connection details that could be used to identify you.
2. Use a proxy to hide your IP address
Like a VPN, a proxy acts as a middleman between your device and the internet. Websites and apps see the IP address of the proxy server and not your real IP address.
In fact, a VPN is technically a type of proxy. But when I say “proxy, ” I’m usually referring to either an SSL, SSH, or SOCKS proxy. These types of proxies typically lack the encryption and other security features offered by VPNs, but they do hide your IP address from websites. They can be configured in existing apps like your browser or, like a VPN, use a third-party app.
Proxies usually don’t usually include DNS traffic, so your website requests still go to a third-party DNS server that can see your real IP address. VPNs with leak protection don’t have this problem. Furthermore, your real IP could be exposed if the proxy connection drops for some reason.
Because proxies lack the authentication of VPNs, they are also more susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks, in which an attacker can pose as the proxy server to steal your data.
Some VPNs offer HTTPS (SSL) proxies as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. These do a decent job of protecting your browser, but other apps and DNS requests can still expose your IP address.
3. Use Tor to hide your IP address for free
Tor, short for The Onion Router, is a decentralized worldwide anonymity network operated by thousands of volunteers. When you connect to Tor, your internet traffic is encrypted and routed through a random sequence of these volunteer “nodes, ” which are sort of like proxy servers. Websites can only see the IP address of the last server in the sequence, called the exit node.
Each time you visit a website, the sequence of nodes changes. This makes it practically impossible to trace activity back to the original IP address.
The easiest way to use Tor is to download and install the Tor Browser. It works just like a barebones version of any other browser like Chrome and Firefox, and it’s completely free.
There are drawbacks, however. Tor is slow and not suitable for torrenting or streaming–stick to web browsing. Furthermore, Tor is often associated with criminal activity because it can be used to access the darknet and illicit websites. Some websites block connections from known Tor nodes, and your ISP might frown upon its use.
See also: How to set up a hidden Tor service
4. Connect to a different network to change your IP address
Whenever you change networks, your IP address changes as well. So if you think the IP address you’ve been using has been compromised, blocked, or tracked, then you can change networks to get a new one.
You can connect to a public or private wifi network, or use your smartphone’s mobile data connection. Note that public wifi hotspots and open networks can be hunting grounds for hackers that can take advantage of the lack of encryption and authentication. Opt for networks that require a password, if possible.
5. Ask your ISP to change your IP address
Your ISP is the entity that decides who gets what IP address. So if you want to change your IP address for some reason, try giving them a call. You’ll need your account information on hand, as well as your current IP address.
It shouldn’t be too hard to get a different IP address, but don’t expect it to stay the same forever. Because IP addresses are constantly being recycled in order to preserve the limited number of available IP addresses, your IP address will probably change once in a while. These are called dynamic IP addresses.
You could request a static IP address that never changes, but there might be an application process and an extra fee.
6. Unplug your modem to change your IP address
This isn’t guaranteed to work, but you can often get a new IP address by unplugging your internet modem and plugging it back in again. When you lose the connection to your ISP, your old IP address will get recycled. When you re-establish a connection, you’ll be assigned a new IP address.
The longer you leave the modem unplugged, the more likely this tactic will work. Try leaving it unplugged overnight if you have to.
Your ISP must use dynamic IP addresses for this to work. Most do.
7. Use a NAT Firewall to hide your private IP address
If you use a wireless router to connect to the internet, it’s likely that you’re behind a NAT firewall. In simplest terms, a NAT firewall allows multiple devices on the same network to use the same public IP address but unique private IP addresses. Network Address Translation (NAT) forwards requests and data from the private IP addresses of individual devices to their online destination under the router’s public IP address. This conserves address space (the number of available IP addresses) and prevents unsolicited inbound communication with potentially dangerous computers on the internet.
A NAT firewall doesn’t hide your public IP address, but your private IP address. All devices connected to a NAT-enabled router will share a public IP address. The NAT firewall will prevent any online communication that isn’t in response to a request you sent from a private IP address. All other requests and data packets are discarded because they don’t have a private IP address to which they can be forwarded.
8. Renew your IP address to change your private IP address
As mentioned above, if you’re connected to an internet router by wifi or ethernet cable, then you’ve probably got a private, or local, IP address as well. It’s not as important to keep this IP address a secret while online, but there might be instances in which you need to change it.
You can do this by entering a few simple commands into your Windows Command Prompt or Mac Terminal.
How to renew your IP address on Windows:
Search for the Command Prompt and right click it to Run as administrator
Enter ipconfig /release
Enter ipconfig /renew
You should now see a new local IP address.
How to renew your IP on MacOS:
Click the Apple menu and open System Preferences
Highlight the network that you’re connected to in the left pane
Select the TCP/IP tab
Click Renew DHCP Lease
Your Mac will now have a different private IP address.
You can never hide your IP address from your ISP
It’s not possible to hide your IP address from your ISP. It makes sense: my ISP provides me with internet service and therefore an IP address. Without an IP address, I can’t connect to the internet.
VPNs and proxies don’t literally replace your existing IP address. They just mask your IP address with one of their own so that other computers and servers on the internet can’t see yours. But your real IP address is still there, communicating through the proxy or VPN server as an intermediary.
Even though you can never hide your real IP address from your ISP, you can hide the content and destination of your internet activity with a VPN. The encryption prevents your ISP from seeing what information you send and receive, and the ISP can only see that you’re connected to a VPN server—not the websites or apps you use. Conversely, the VPN hides your real IP address from websites and apps, but they still see the contents and destination of your internet communications.
The only parties that can see all three—your real IP address, the websites you visit, and what data is transmitted between the two—are you and your VPN provider. For this reason, I only recommend VPNs that don’t store any logs of your online activity.
Frequently Asked Questions about how to make ip address anonymous
Can IP address be anonymous?
Anonymous IP addresses (sometimes incorrectly generalized as “proxies”) serve to hide a web user’s true IP address and obfuscate their geolocation.Jan 24, 2019
How do I hide my IP address for free?
Use a proxy to hide your IP address. … Use Tor to hide your IP address for free. … Connect to a different network to change your IP address. … Ask your ISP to change your IP address. … Unplug your modem to change your IP address. … Use a NAT Firewall to hide your private IP address.More items…•Mar 31, 2021
How do you hide your IP address?
Three ways to hide your IPUse a VPN. A VPN is an intermediary server that encrypts your connection to the internet — and it also hides your IP address. … Use Tor. Comprising thousands of volunteer-run server nodes, Tor is a free network that conceals your identity online via multiple layers of encryption. … Use a proxy.Apr 8, 2020