What is an IP address?An IP address, in simplicity, is the number assigned to your computer when you use the Internet. In the same manner that your cellular service provider assigns you a number for your cell phone, your computer too is assigned a number. Unlike your cell phone, this number is not static but it is dynamic depending on various factors. You cannot access the Internet without this binary number assigned to you.
For instance when you type "How to troubleshot on Windows XP" on a search engine, the search engine sends this query to a number of databases connected to it. It provides you with the links for various websites it acquires from its databases that satisfy the query. You then click on the links and seek the information you need. Well, such a simple process would be impossible without an IP address. The Internet would not know where to send the information you ask for it.
Benefits of hiding the IP addressAn IP address therefore, is akin to a mailing address that states your location so that information can be sent to you. It is also used to identify your computer as an Internet user both functions, which are vital for you to access the vast resources, present in the Internet.
The problem arises however, when this means of identification and addressing does not fully work to your advantage. In the same manner that the web uses the IP to send information to you, other users use the IP to locate you and even trace your Internet activities. It guides a cyber-stalker who not only can follow you, but also can use the link they create with the IP to get your information.
Imagine that the company confidential data you are privy to can be tapped into. Even worse, a hacker can track when you make a payment online and even steal your credit card details. Therefore, despite the great resource that an IP address is, it calls for you to hide it from other users when using the Internet to guarantee your safety and data safety as well.
Hiding your IP guarantees:
- Safety of confidential information
One of the easiest ways to lose your job is letting out company information. Do not be surprised to find competing companies attempting to hack into your LAN or a single computer to access information. The free market economy is quite competitive and many would do anything simply to stay afloat. Such a risk is higher when connecting via a remote connection.
- Safety of your personal data
An easy way for identity theft to occur is accessing vital personal information via the Internet. Do not suffer the loss protect yourself from such fraud.
- Inability to be traced
One cannot trace you and your activities offering you great privacy. Know however, that in conducting illegal activities most courts can give out a search warrant hence IP blocking serves little purpose then.
How to use VPN to hide IPVarious methods for hiding your address exist ranging from the simple to the advanced. Simple methods include taking your computer to a cyber café, using an institutions Wi-Fi connection such as one in a library or university or changing the dial-up access number. Such methods are easy to execute but also easy for one to figure out the IP wrapping tactic and still trace you if they are intent on doing so.
An advanced but highly effective of hiding your IP address is using VPN technology. VPN is used to connect you to a public network securely but this connection can also act as a server. This concept is similar to using a proxy server when the server acts as the go between effectively hiding your IP from any user who is tracing you. The server when traced will present an anonymous IP address unlike your computer, which has a specific identification address.
The benefit of using a VPN connection over a proxy is quite simple; the VPN connection is more secure than the proxy installation. The proxy can be compromised but a VPN cannot through accessing the service provider or application providing the proxy. Also a proxy is only applicable when using a browser to access the Internet whereas a VPN connection hides you IP address regardless of whatever application, form of device or browser you use to access the Internet.
VPN also adds you the benefit of choosing the IP address with which you want to mask your real one. You can choose one of a different state or even a different country as your fake address. With an advanced VPN connection, not only do you access public networks securely through tunneling technology but also your IP is identity and data is protected. Remember, cyber security is nothing to joke about.
Which VPN to use?
There are several companies out there, in fact over 100 who offer VPN services. We'll list the top 3 here, but if you want to find out more, there's a review site at best VPN who are pretty good.
HideMyAss is a UK company who have over 300 servers and 40,000 IP addresses, and are probably the best known brand out there. They have all the features you could want, the VPN works on almost any device. Monthly fees will set you back around $11.
PureVPN is the second biggest company, they are similar in size to HideMyAss. Their only real negative point is that their unlimited bandwidth VPN package costs $18, quite a bit more than most services.