These days, wanting to hide my IP address means wanting to protect my online identity. The truth is, not only social security numbers or driver’s license IDs identify us – an IP address is another string of numbers assigned to us. An IP address is distressingly public and bad actors know how to take advantage of a visible IP address.
What is an IP address?
The internet, being nothing more than a large group of interconnected networks, needs technology to create communication between them. The Internet Protocol, or IP in short, is the primary technology, which is responsible for this connection. Internet Protocol is responsible for defining, structuring, and delivering data packets from point A to point B.
An Internet Protocol address is a unique string of numbers that identifies every device connected to the internet. That is, your laptop, phone, printer, or even smart TV, all have individual, different IP addresses. The way Internet Protocol technology operates, IP addresses are a sensitive piece of information, as they are associated with devices’ locations. It’s unavoidable, as the physical location is necessary for the Internet Protocol to establish the most efficient connection.
If you wonder how do I find the IP address of my Android phone or any other device, you can check this step-by-step guide covering various operating systems.
Why would I want to hide my IP?
If you don’t execute the IP hide, creative hackers come up with countless different ways to use it maliciously. “IP spoofing” is one of the most common techniques that bad actors use. It works like an impersonation of a user, device, or software on the internet. As computer networks communicate by exchanging data packets, a hacker changes the original packet’s IP address to a fake one. These data packets move the TCP/IP protocol, which appears to have a loophole. To break the process down in detail, here’s how it works:
- The visitor (you) sends a synchronization (SYN) packet to a host (for instance, the website’s server).
- The host sends an acknowledgment (ACK) packet back to the visitor.
- The visitor sends back an SYN-ACK message to the host and approves the connection.
Now, if you choose not to hide your IP address and leave it publicly available, an attacker intercepts the handshake before step 3. This way, it prohibits the visitor (you) from ever receiving the final SYN-ACK message. Instead, the attacker sends a hijacked confirmation that includes their device’s MAC address and spoofed IP, the one belonging to the original visitor. The host thinks that it communicates with the original guest, but yet, the connection is established between the host and the spoofed IP address. As the spoofing activity is carried out at the network level, there are no external signs of tampering. This way, attackers avoid being discovered and implicated by investigators or other authorities.
What if I don’t hide my IP address online?
Your IP is just a string of random numbers, but as innocent it may sound, they pinpoint a lot of other different factors. Besides physical location, it is interconnected with all of your actions online. If you don’t hide your IP address and it gets hacked, you become vulnerable to a variety of serious threats, ranging from nefarious activities to malicious hijacking. While the IP alone is not a direct gateway to our private information, security experts still regard it as a backdoor for further attacks. Hackers can use stolen IP addresses to download illegal material, child pornography, or even content that threatens national security. All this, under your name, not theirs.
DDoS and MitM attacks – extra reasons to hide my IP address
IP spoofing is commonly used to invoke Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS). The goal is to overwhelm a target with traffic while masking the identity of the malicious source. With the spoofed IP address, a hacker can send millions of DDoS requests to a particular service online. This way, servers send their responses to the victim’s machine directly. Not if one chooses to hide my IP with VPN – the target remains a VPN service provider, not the user itself.
Man-in-the-middle attacks are commonly targeted in unsecured public networks – schools, cafes, hotels, to name a few. The attacker can pretend to be both – visitor and the website, as it intercepts online communication. It stands in between the user and the end destination. With this attack, a hacker gains access to all of your online communications, and even seemingly innocent details can help them lead to further attacks.
So, how to make my IP address private?
With no doubt, to keep yourself safe online, you should hide the IP address. The foolproof and easy method is to hide my IP with a VPN. Virtual Private Network replaces your real IP address to the server’s IP. Due to a secure VPN configuration, no one can intercept your communications. No hacker will be able to view your traffic or spoof your IP. Atlas VPN features SafeBrowse, it can protect you from entering malicious websites, which can expose you to various attacks. If you hide IP address with a tool like VPN, you get a lot of other security bonuses on top of it.
Can I hide my IP for free? Either to hide my IP address on software or to hide my IP on Chrome (or any other browser for that matter) – Atlas VPN is here to keep you safe and sound.