How to Hide Your IP Address to Browse Privately and Safely

Websites keep a log of your IP address whenever you visit them. These logs can then be analyzed to study your behavior and online activity. Read this article to know how you can hide your IP address, and browse the Internet safely and privately.
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Tip to hide your IP address to browse privately and safely
Don't let prying eyes get a hold of your IP address
Your computer's IP address can reveal a lot more information about you than you can comprehend.
Everyone is concerned about their privacy these days, be it online or offline. You can do whatever you want within the four walls of your home, but it is not that easy to keep your online activity private. Many snoopy individuals are looking for your secret information. They can then use this data to either extort money from you, or sell it to those willing to pay a good price for it. Let's take a look at how you can browse safely, and hide your IP address while browsing the Internet.

The Internet is not a safe place
The Internet, or the world wide web, is the biggest of all computer networks in the world. All the computers connected to the Internet can communicate with other computers over the Internet following the required Internet protocols. If your computer is not using any security software, and doesn't have hardware/software firewall enabled, then it is exposed to anyone who knows your IP address. The attacker can then steal your personal data using spyware and other malicious programs.

Luckily, it is actually very easy to stay safe online. All it needs is a combination of proper software and some common sense. Software will defend your computer from attackers and Trojans, and your common sense can avoid them.

Here's what you can do to stay safe online
Avoid clicking on hyperlinks in emails, social networks, and on IMs like WhatsApp, Hangouts, etc.

Never submit your private information such as bank account and credit card numbers, your postal address, phone number, etc., to little-known and suspicious websites.

Use some sandbox software for trying out new software and browsing malicious websites (if you have to) from a browser installed within the sandbox.

Always keep your OS, network firewall/router, and security software suite updated.

Avoid following masked URLs such as http://goo.gl/ibhv, http://bit.ly/1cPCF78, and the like. Always check the original URL using longurl.org to know which website the link is pointing to.

Why safe browsing cannot guarantee anonymity?
The above mentioned guidelines will help you stay safe from online threats, but there is little that these tips would do to keep your activity private and anonymous. Internet sleuths, hackers, and intelligence agencies can track your online activity even if you are following all these browsing safety tips. They can easily find out your IP address, and then track you to all the websites that you visit online. All the websites.

Hiding the IP address is the best way to do anonymous browsing
Technically speaking, you cannot exactly hide the IP address of your computer. Some IP address has to be there. Therefore, the workaround is to mask the original IP address with some other IP address. This masking of an IP address is referred to as hiding the IP address, in layman's terms. Some of the best ways to hide your IP address are as follows:

Use Proxy Servers
A proxy server acts an intermediary for handling requests from web servers and clients. So, when you set up your computer to use a proxy server for web browsing, you are actually requesting the proxy server to download the resources from the original web server for you. This way, the original web server will record the IP address of the proxy server for requesting the resources. It will have no idea that it was you who wanted that information.

HTTP proxy servers, SOCKS proxy servers, public proxy servers, private proxy servers, and web proxy servers are some of the most popular forms of proxy servers or proxies available on the Internet.

Web-based proxies are the easiest to use, and require no setup. Just enter the web address that you want to visit on the proxy website, and you are good to go. More and more proxy websites are being blocked by network firewalls on a daily basis. So, it would be a good idea to find out the proxy website that you will be using at your school/work by visiting proxy.org on your home computer. This website keeps an updated list of new, unblocked proxy websites. The level of security and reliability provided by such websites is not easily determinable. If you want more security and reliability, then it is advised to set up your computer for using private proxy servers.

Use Proxy Chaining
Proxy chaining means using proxy after proxy. It is like opening one proxy website using another proxy website, and so on. It is very, very difficult for intelligence agencies to find out the IP address of someone using proxy chaining.

Set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN fetches the web resources for you from the original web server, and thus masks your IP address with its own IP address. It also encrypts web traffic and uses tunneling protocols. So, anyone intercepting your web traffic will only get scrambled data, and won't be able to get any information out of it. Intelligence agencies and Internet spies will only know that you are connected to a VPN, but nothing more than that. They can't sue you for using a VPN.

Depending on your requirements, you can select between free and paid VPN solutions. The paid ones, obviously, are much faster and offer more features.

Caution: For complete online anonymity, never choose a VPN which keeps a log of user activities.

VPN providers will claim that they do not share their logs with anyone, but what would you do if you were in their place, and get a government notice for sharing the data logs? Do not use such VPNs.

The above mentioned solutions for masking your IP address will provide a very good level of security, by making it very difficult for any attacker or Government agency to spy on you. Needless to say, don't ever try to abuse these services for committing cybercrimes and acts of terrorism.
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Published: August 5, 2014
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