It is not a secret that your IP address reveals a lot about who you are as an internet user. The IP address itself contains information that can be used for everything from geo-restriction to identifying your ISP. While the IP address is being transmitted publicly, web servers also capture additional details such as the device you use, your web browser (and its version), and your operating system.
In recent years, more people have started protecting their IP addresses as a way to maintain privacy. As they yearn for a product that would work as an IP scrambler, advertising networks continue tracking users across multiple websites, and protecting your IP address becomes even more important. In fact, there are several reasons why people protect their IP addresses – and why you should too.
What Your IP Address Really Reveals
Your IP address is designed to identify the terminal from which you access the internet. In a case where you are assigned a dedicated IP address, you use the same IP address every time you connect to the internet. In most situations, however, your IP address changes depending on the cycle of your internet service provider (ISP).
Still, it is interesting to see what an IP address reveals and what it does not. It does reveal your approximate location – usually down to your ZIP code – and the ISP you use. It doesn’t, however, say anything about who you are as an internet user.
That part comes from trackers designed to keep up with your online activities using your IP address as one of the identifiers. When you access a website with ad trackers, those trackers automatically identify you as an entity. They will then try to piece together your online activities based on how you interact with different websites.
One of the main reasons why people protect their IP addresses is privacy. When the IP addresses are hidden, sites and trackers are less likely to keep tracking you across multiple websites. The best they can do is mark you as an entity every time you come across a tracker during an internet session.
Details about your approximate location are also hidden when the IP address is masked. Using a proxy server or a VPN as an intermediary server, you can redirect requests to web servers and make them look like they came from the intermediary server. This way, the IP address of the proxy server is captured instead of your real IP.
Using proxies is actually interesting. There are proxies designed to completely hide your identity when browsing the internet. Other proxies function more as middleware that bridges your computer with the rest of the internet.
Getting Around Geo-Restrictions
That brings us to the second reason why people protect their IP address: avoiding geo-restrictions. As mentioned before, every IP address carries location information. Now that some sites deliver content to users based on their locations, masking your IP address can be incredibly handy.
If you want to watch TV series that are only available to US Netflix users, for instance, you can connect to a US-based proxy server and visit the streaming site to access its content. Want to watch the latest episodes of a BBC series? You can use iPlayer when you have a UK IP address.
It is easy to see why more and more people now turn to proxy servers when browsing the internet. Geo-restrictions are prohibiting them from accessing certain content, and proxies allow them to bypass those restrictions. You can use the same method too!
Connecting to the internet using proxies has one side benefit: you can bypass blockages and internet restrictions in some cases. Since you are connecting to the proxy rather than the destination servers directly, you can access the rest of the internet freely even when the servers are blocked.
For example, you can continue watching YouTube videos even when the office internet network blocks YouTube.com specifically. As long as you can connect to the proxy server, you are basically routing your requests to YouTube through that proxy.
The method is also popular in certain parts of the world where internet restrictions are common. In China, internet users post to Instagram while using VPN services. Corporate users rely on VPN services to remain securely connected to the cloud server used by the company.
VPNs and Proxies to the Rescue
There are still so many reasons why people protect their IP addresses, but it is becoming clear that there are reliable methods used by most – if not all – of them: proxies and VPNs. Acting as a middleware, these solutions allow you to completely hide your IP address while still benefiting from the resources available online.
You don’t have to sacrifice privacy to benefit from the internet. More importantly, you can get around limitations such as geo-restrictions by completely hiding your IP address. Simply add a proxy server or connect to the internet using a VPN service, and you will be hiding your IP address the whole time.