As privacy threats rise in the information age, many Internet users want to know: what is an IP address and should I hide my IP address today? Let’s start with the first phase of the two-part question. In layman’s terms, an IP address is a set of symbols that identifies a device on the Internet or a local network.
Typically, your ISP will assign the same IP address to some of the following devices in your home:
- Desktop computer
- Laptop computer
- Video game console
- Smart TV
- Smart appliances
- Virtual assistant device
However, you’ll be using a different IP address when connecting the same device to a public WiFi network outside of home. For example, if you connect your smartphone to the WiFi connection at a café, shopping mall, or airport, you’ll have a different IP address.
What Can Someone Do with My IP Address?
While an IP address can’t show your exact location, it can show someone your general geographical location, like your neighborhood. Clever hackers can use this information to learn more about you, launch scams, hit you with cyberattacks, track your activity, and more.
Additionally, websites and even governments can use your IP address to keep an eye on you or limit your access to online content. For example, a nation with draconian laws can block local IP addresses from reading news or using social media pages like Facebook or Twitter to control people.
Similarly, gaming and video streaming platforms block people from certain geographical locations through their IP addresses. They may do so to enforce regional copyright protection, to impose local censorship laws, or to localize sales.
Ok, But What Is My IP Address?
So, you must be wondering how to find your own IP address from your computer or device. It’s easy. Just go to your favorite search engine and type: what is my IP address and press enter. You’ll see your IP address very quickly.
What Is the Difference between IPv4 and IPv6?
The Internet has grown incredibly fast. Initially, there was only one 32-bit version of Internet Protocol called Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4), which allowed the creation of over 4 billion combinations of IP addresses. This number wasn’t enough to satisfy demand, so the 128-bit Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) came along with over 1000 times more potential IP addresses.
How Do I Hide My IP Address?
There are several ways to hide your IP address. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Proxy server: When you connect to a proxy server, use the server’s IP address instead of your own. Using a proxy server can be risky because the servers may still see your information. Also, proxies are more susceptible to security risks.
- TOR Browser: The TOR browser sends your data through three relays, with each relay offering a new IP address. Only the first relay sees your actual IP address while the final relay sees the second relay’s IP. Although the TOR browser can enhance your privacy, it can be quite slow.
- Paid VPN (Virtual Private Network) service: A good VPN service with a no-logs policy will encrypt your data and mask your privacy address. However, it’s best to stay away from free VPNs because they tend to log your data and can carry malware infections.
You can mask your IP address with a top VPN subscription if you want to access new content, encrypt your data, or enhance your privacy. Although an IP address is just a string of symbols, it can reveal a lot about you.