In a way, your IP is like a passport. While it’s a mandatory part of how devices interact with each other when connected to a network, it also provides plenty of opportunities for hackers to use it for their own gain if left exposed. Without sufficient protection, they can use it to pave their way straight to your hard drive and the contents it holds.
Your IP address reveals more about you than you think. Google “what is my IP” – because knowing what it is the first step toward protecting it. And the reasons for doing so are numerous – unless you want unauthorized individuals to know the following:1. Your browsing history
In case the government is interested in what you do online, they can issue a court order to your ISP, prompting them to reveal your browsing history. Even if this doesn’t end up having legal ramifications, embarrassment is not out of the question, depending on your browsing habits. Everybody has a reputation to uphold. Can you afford to have your tarnished?2. Your geographical location
This one doesn’t even need a court order to go through; anyone who knows your public IP address can track down your physical location. Admittedly, it isn’t quite accurate down to the very last detail, but you’d be amazed how close it can be. To illustrate, your public address may fail to give away the exact street you’re at right now, but it can get the region right. Too close for comfort? You be the judge.3. Your ISP
Let’s say that you’ve breached the terms of service of a website. Even though other users can’t see your IP address, the administrator sure can. If they determine your behavior to be malicious (or didn’t like it for any reason whatsoever), they now have the option of reporting you straight to your ISP. Even if you haven’t done a thing, malicious reporting is never out of the question.4. A potential spamming spree of yours
Certain online tools were designed to help protect the world against spammers. If your IP finds itself on one of the anti-spam lists, it could be that an online registration you’ve tried to complete somewhere won’t go through or maybe a message you posted won’t be approved. The reason being is that in such scenarios, the administrators check your IP before letting you go about your business. In case the background check comes back positive, and your IP is reported as a source of spam, tough luck!Hiding your IP
Now that you know the reasons why you should hide your IP, the next step is to actually do so. Roughly speaking, these are the options available to you:1. Secure browser
Connecting to the internet through a proxy server is one way of masking your real IP. However, free proxy services need to pull in a profit somehow. In practice, this often translates to selling your personal information. Others rely on comparably less questionable ways such as monetizing it all through ads. However, there are better options out there.3. VPN
By hiding your IP behind a VPN, nothing will leak through. As an added bonus, encryption is applied to your connection, which allows you to enjoy a breath of relief even when connecting to WiFi networks of questionable origin.4. Connection tethering
A good way to change your IP address is to connect to the internet through your smartphone’s connection tethering functionality. It doesn’t offer any sort of encryption, though, so keep that in mind. But if you suspect that your real IP is under attack for some reason, this is a quick solution for obtaining a new one.5. Contacting the ISP
If you feel frustrated due to not having any control over your IP address, calling your ISP is a good idea. Whether your IP is static or dynamic, chances are they’ll be able to help. In case they ask for a reason, simply tell them that you’re trying to learn more about networking. If you have a dynamic IP, the process is even easier; all it takes for you to change it is to unplug your connection, wait for a couple of seconds, then plug it back in. Done!Conclusion
Considering the points made above, there are plenty of reasons to hide your IP. As luck would have it, the same goes for the number of solutions there are to the problem.