Hiding your IP address
What is an IP address?
Each device in a data network requires its own address for unique identification. Without this address, all data sent via the internet would be lost aimlessly. An IP address is the only way to ensure that the data stream reaches the correct device. When you view a website on the World Wide Web, the browser transmits the IP address of the device. The abbreviation IP signifies „Internet Protocol“. This is a widely used standard that defines the form in which information may be exchanged. An example of an IP address is: 126.96.36.199. It always consists of four numeric values in the range of 0 to 255. Each value is separated by a dot from the next value. However, the number of possible combinations is limited with this system (standard IPv4).
The IP address can be used to find out which internet provider you use and in which region you are located.
Where do I find the IP address?
You can have any operating system to display your IP address. There are two ways to do so: graphically and via command line (or via „prompt“). Certain websites will also display your IP address. Commonly, the IP address is being assigned dynamically. This means that you will always have a different address each time you connect to the router. That way, an internet provider needs to assign considerably fewer addresses than he has customers since not all customers are online at the same time.
Why hide the IP address?
There are several situations when internet users will want to keep their IP address secret deliberately. They need not necessarily do so for illegal reasons. The simple fact that you are not allowed to watch certain YouTube videos with a German IP, for example, can be reason enough. Additionally, users of public discussion forums or guest books often want to remain unrecognized.
That’s how you hide your IP address
You can obfuscate the IP address of your connection in various ways. You can do so with a fee-based VPN software, via the Tor network or with the help of proxy servers (communication intermediaries in a computer network). With all three options, the data packets are first redirected to a server, which then passes them on. Thus, only the IP address of the server, but not that of the user, is visible.
- Disguise IP address with VPN software
With VPN software („virtual private network“), users can navigate through a network anonymously. Company networks, for example, are often configured in this way. If the employees connect to such a network, they take over its IP address and are therefore anonymous.
- Hide IP address with the Tor network
To use Tor, users simply download, extract and launch the Tor Browser Bundle. The program is free and contains all the necessary components for anonymous surfing. Even the requests to the Tor network are encrypted and pass through several constantly changing intermediate servers until they finally get to the target page.
- Disguise IP address with a proxy server
A proxy server functions as an interface between the PC and the server which the URL addresses. It thus overrides the IP address of the user. With common browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer it is possible to set up a proxy server. You will commonly find this feature in your options menu.