Clients use IP addresses to reach servers, and servers use IP addresses to send requested data back to the correct client. This request-and-response system is part of the TCP/IP model, which governs how devices on the internet communicate with each other. IP addresses can be classified in a variety of ways: IPv4 vs. IPv6, public vs. local, and static vs. dynamic IP addresses.
Three ways to hide your IP
Here, we take a look at three tools you can use to hide your IP address. Each offers its own blend of privacy, security, and practicality.
1. Use a VPN
A VPN is an intermediary server that encrypts your connection to the internet — and it also hides your IP address. VPNs encrypt all your traffic, not only in your browser but also in other apps, and then pass it onward to its destination. They’re a popular privacy solution, and as such, there’s a strong incentive for VPN providers to design tools that are as easy to use as they are secure.
Here’s how to hide your IP address with a VPN: Simply download a VPN such as Avast SecureLine VPN, log in, and turn it on to protect both your IP address and your internet traffic.
How does a VPN hide your IP address?
You’re hidden because your traffic takes a detour through the VPN server. When your traffic — sites visited, online apps used, uploads, downloads, etc. — reaches its destination, it does so under a “virtual” IP address assigned by the VPN. There’s only one party who’ll be able to see your actual IP address: your VPN provider. That’s why you should choose a trusted VPN provider who isn’t going to keep logs on your activity.
Avast SecureLine VPN is a safe, secure, and convenient way to mask your IP address. It’ll hide your online activity from your internet service provider (ISP), employer, school, and anyone else on your network, including a snooping cybercriminal. And we never keep any logs on sites you visit, apps you use, or content you view.
2. Use Tor
Comprising thousands of volunteer-run server nodes, Tor is a free network that conceals your identity online via multiple layers of encryption. When you access Tor, typically by using the free Tor Browser, your traffic is relayed and encrypted through a series of three relay nodes, each of which decrypts one layer of encryption to learn the identity of the next node. When your traffic leaves the final node, it’s fully decrypted and sent to its destination.
The relay system hides your IP address, but not without cost: because Tor’s encryption system is so thorough, it takes a long time for your traffic to complete its journey. You’ll be sacrificing browsing speed for Tor’s anonymity. This is a worthwhile tradeoff when it really counts, such as for whistleblowers and political dissidents. But if you’re simply seeking to hide your IP address, when comparing Tor and a VPN, you’ll find a VPN to be a far more convenient and faster solution.
How does Tor hide your IP address?
Each relay node along your traffic’s pathway through the Tor network only knows the IP address of the node immediately before and after it. Even if an attacker manages to intercept your traffic en route from the final node to your destination server, it’d be very difficult to parse your original IP address at that point.
3. Use a proxy
A proxy server handles your internet traffic on your behalf. Proxies sit in front of a client or network of clients and forward its requests while also receiving and delivering responses from servers. You may need to manually adjust your device’s proxy settings if you want to use a proxy.
Unlike a VPN, most proxies won’t encrypt your traffic, and they also won’t hide your IP address from anyone who can intercept your traffic on its way from your device to the proxy. Proxy servers, especially free web-based proxies, tend to be less reliable than VPNs. This is why proxies are best as a quick and temporary solution as opposed to a long-term privacy plan.
How does a proxy hide your IP address?
Some types of proxy can mask your IP address with a fake one. You’ll appear as though you’re based in the same country as your proxy server. If you’re using a proxy to hide your IP, be aware that not all proxies will offer equal protection:
Transparent proxies conceal neither your IP address nor your use of a proxy.
Anonymous proxies hide your IP address, but not your use of a proxy.
High anonymity (or elite) proxies hide both your IP address as well as your use of a proxy.
Some sites or content platforms may block traffic from known proxies, so you’ll have to be careful if you’re trying to use a proxy to access media.
Why should I hide my IP address?
Your IP address identifies you online, and in today’s data-driven world, your online activity is very valuable. It’s important to hide your IP address so that you can regain some control over your privacy while you’re online. Among other sensitive info, your IP can reveal your shopping and buying habits as well as your physical location. So why hide your IP? You’ve got plenty to gain, and not much to lose.
Hide your IP to browse anonymously
Advertisers and marketers can track you across the internet and analyze your browsing habits with the goal of marketing to you more effectively. Even hiding your IP address won’t stop them, because tracking cookies also deliver this information — which is why you should regularly take the time to delete cookies from your browser.
To take private internet browsing to the next level, consider a dedicated private browser like Avast Secure Browser. It includes a range of advanced anti-tracking features to let you use the internet without leaving any clues behind that companies and individuals can use to track your activity.
Hide your IP to shield your location
Hide your IP address behind another in a different part of the world, and no one will know where you really are. This includes websites and services that host geo-restricted content. For example, if you’re traveling abroad and want to access some content that’s meant only for your home country, you can use a VPN or proxy to unblock that website with a false IP address in the correct location.
Many IP addresses are linked to a real-world address, or at least to a general location. If you’re frequently using false IP addresses to change your online location, no one will be able to figure out where you actually are.
Can my IP address ever truly be hidden?
While it’s not quite possible to hide your IP address from 100% of the world, you can achieve a functional level of privacy that should be sufficient for everyday needs. With a VPN, the only entity that should be able to link your online activity to your IP address is your VPN provider itself. This is why it’s so important to choose a VPN provider with a reliable reputation for security, and which doesn’t keep logs of user activity.
Your ISP will be able to see the type, timing, and amount of traffic you’re sending to the VPN server, but they won’t know the specifics. The same goes for Tor. Many proxies don’t encrypt your traffic, and so your ISP will be able to access your activity if it wants to while you’re using a proxy. And as mentioned earlier, all the websites and services you use while connected to a VPN will only see the VPN’s IP address, not yours.
The primary purpose for hiding your IP address is to protect your online activity and location from third-party observers: websites, advertisers, and cybercriminals. Whenever your safety and privacy is concerned, being proactive is always a good move.
What is IP masking?
IP masking is the technique of concealing your IP address by adopting a false one. This is how hiding your IP address works — they’re two ways to refer to the same thing. If you’re interested in learning how to mask your IP address, you can apply the same techniques described in this article.
Your traffic is always going to need an IP address online, since that’s how websites and services know who’s making the requests and where to send the replies. The only way to hide your IP address and still use the internet is to mask it behind another one.
Hide your IP the easy way with a VPN
Avast SecureLine VPN lets you hide your IP address by choosing from our blazing-fast servers located in 34 countries all over the world. Enjoy the freedom to access blocked content and browse the internet with complete confidence in your online privacy, thanks to secure encryption on all your online activities and our no-logging policy.