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How to keep your IP address private and secure

Posted on July 27th, 2018 by in How-to, Privacy & Security, Security.

Even if you don’t know what an IP address is, you have probably heard the term. That’s because IP addresses are an important aspect of the architecture of the Internet. Without an IP address, other computers wouldn’t be able to communicate with yours, and vice versa. But this short string of numbers can also be used to track you, so for this reason, you may want to anonymize your IP address. In this article, we discuss what an IP address is, and what are some ways you can hide your IP.

This article will explore the topic of IP addresses in detail, explaining what they are and why you might want to keep yours private. At the end, we’ll cover a few simple ways to hide your IP address.

What is an IP address?

An IP address, which stands for Internet Protocol address, is a unique numeric combination that identifies routers, computers, or other devices to allow them to communicate through the Internet. In the same way your email address allows others to send you an email, a remote computer needs your IP address to communicate with your computer. IP addresses normally look something like this: 185.159.159.140

An IP address is a sequence of four blocks of numbers. Each of these blocks is a value between 0 and 255, meaning that each block has 256 possible values. This numeric IP system allows roughly four billion unique IP addresses.

It’s relatively easy to find someone’s IP address. Website analytics can track site visitors, and sometimes wikis and comment boards identify contributors with their IP address. Your Internet service provider (ISP) also knows your IP address.

Because your IP address can be used to identify you, regulators and privacy advocates consider it to be a form of personal data. Under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, organizations are required not to misuse the IP addresses of citizens and residents of the European Union.

However, that doesn’t mean your IP address is safe from hackers, unethical companies, and repressive government agencies.

How your IP address can be misused

Like any piece of personal information, there are ways others can try to exploit it. Some kinds of misuse may be relatively harmless, such as the unauthorized use of your IP address to track you across the Internet and target you for advertising. Other abuse can be extremely destructive. These are some of the main threats:

  • Ad networks – Companies like Google and Facebook are constantly monitoring your online browsing in order to deliver personalized ads. Many people find these ads intrusive and don’t want corporations keeping a record of their activity.
  • Censorship – The Internet is supposed to be a place for the free and open exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, many governments and businesses would rather it weren’t. Repressive governments often block websites they dislike, and companies often block IP addresses based on their geographic location.
  • Illegal downloading – Cyber criminals can download pirated moves, music, and videos – even child pornography – using your IP address to shield their true identity from law enforcement. In many countries, downloading pirated content is a criminal offense.
  • Targeted attacks – Hackers who want to harass and intimidate you can use your IP address in a number of ways. One popular form is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, in which the criminal bombards your device with data and disrupts your Internet access. Your IP address can even reveal your physical location with surprising accuracy.
  • Surveillance – When your Internet service provider can see your IP address, it can associate your online activity with you personally. This information can be used to censor or throttle content, and, through a subpoena, the government could also gain access to your browsing history.

How to keep your IP address private

Luckily, it’s pretty simple to prevent your IP address from being exposed to the network. Here are four steps to hide your IP address:

1. Use a VPN

A VPN establishes an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server. When you browse the Internet using a VPN, all your traffic passes through this encrypted tunnel before reaching the public Internet. In this way, your true IP address and location are hidden, and the IP address tied to your browsing activity is that of the VPN server. For more information about VPNs, check out our articles on how a VPN works and why use it.
ProtonVPN also has an advanced security feature called Secure Core, which defends against sophisticated network-based attacks that can compromise VPN servers and expose your IP address.

2. Follow the basic precautions

We discussed in our article “Why online privacy matters and how you can protect your data.” We’ve provided some safe options for browsers, email services, and instant messaging apps that should help you to control your privacy.

3. Use Tor

Tor is a free software program developed by The Tor Project, which allows users to anonymize their Internet traffic. This makes it a useful tool for those concerned about surveillance and for those who wish to access onion sites. ProtonVPN supports access to the Tor network, making it simple to route your entire Internet connection through the Tor network with a single click. ProtonVPN Tor nodes connect to the Tor network by establishing a new route each time a user establishes a new VPN session. This way, none of the Tor nodes along the way receive information about the originating client, and user details stay hidden even in the case of a malicious Tor node.

4. Keep your antivirus software up to date, and change the default password on your router

These are easy ways to protect your devices from malware attacks that can expose your data, including your IP address.

There’s little reason not to keep your IP address hidden: The hazards of exposing your IP address far outweigh the ease of protecting it. Just as you may not want to publish your phone number or home address online, it may be just as prudent to keep your IP address private as well.

Best Regards,
The ProtonVPN Team

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Proton was founded by scientists who met at CERN and had the idea that an internet where privacy is the default is essential to preserving freedom. Our team of developers, engineers, and designers from all over the world is working to provide you with secure ways to be in control of your online data.

22 comments

  1. JJ

    Is these comments real or made up!! I don’t have a good feeling about what I have read!!

  2. Kevin

    I have just puchased a VPN so I could stream TV from around the world, but just within a few hours I have had to remove it, The reasons being that It hides my true IP address which is needed to gain access to my Amazon account and my online Bank account. I thought that a VPN would let me choose when I wanted to use the VPN and when I did not want to use it. The VPN does not allow me turn it on or off, it is on all the time. Does the Proton VPN work in a similar way?

  3. Richie Koch

    Hi Kevin, you can disconnect from ProtonVPN at any time if you’d like to use your own IP address.

  4. Victor Neoh

    I have a question.
    Can I choose a specific VPN IP address in United States Region instead of randomly connected to a VPN IP address?
    I work outside of the States but I need to have the IP address in the States in order for me to work with my company server. To do that , my server need to allow only specific IP address in order for me to connect, with ProtonVPN, I am able to connect to VPN in the States but with random IP address, which is not what I want.
    Please let me know if it’s possible.

  5. Richie Koch

    Hi Victor,

    Unfortunately, we cannot help you here. Essentially, each of our VPN servers has its own IP address and we cannot provide any IP addresses beyond those. What you are describing, in which a VPN allows you to safely connect to your company’s network via the Internet, is commonly known as a corporate VPN. Your company would have to set it up for you. Hope this helps.

  6. Leee

    How can i make my vpn be anonymous rather than a different one?

  7. Jie

    How can we test that our IP address is hidden? Thank you!

  8. Ben Wolford

    Hi Jie! An easy way to check your IP address is to visit https://ip.me/

  9. lynn

    HiI
    I am using the free trial of your vpn specifically to hide my isp. It is still showing up! I noticed another person commenting had the same problem. why isn’t your software hiding my isp?

  10. Rebecca

    I was blackmailed by a hacker who emailed me on one of my accounts that I accessed from my desktop so idk if that means my desktop was compromised but if so- would this prevent future problems

  11. Ferd

    Hi,
    Using protonvpn plus via linux command line. Works like a charm. Thanks guys!
    Now, when connected to either a secure server or to TOR, when I browse and goto whatsmyip.org I see a new ip, the one your service provides. When I then go to command line and say ifconfig, it shows my actual own IP. What does that mean? Thanks and keep up the good work!

  12. Proton vpn does not hide my IP address

    Why is sites still seeing my current location? Even when my vpn is on

  13. chris

    I use your email at the mo but thinking of switching from PIA to your VPN. I use pihole and unbound so I do not want to use your DNS can I set my local setup in your app, both win10 and android?

    Thanks you

  14. Jimbob

    Do you regularly recycle or change ur basic and pro server ip’s? If so how often? Thanks

  15. Claire

    I am confused. After making a connection with proton vpn, do i just open my normal browser like chrome? Or can someone find my real IP address if i do that. Or do I need to download and use the tor browser to have tor protection too, or is it done automatically through the proton vpn connection?

  16. Ben Wolford

    Hi Claire! Once you’re connected to ProtonVPN, you can open your normal browser. Your IP address will appear to the websites you visit as one of our servers, and your real IP will be hidden. (Keep in mind that we will still be able to see your real IP address, which is why it’s important to choose a trustworthy VPN service.)

  17. proton vpn does not hide my IP address

    What up with Proton? My IP address is showing up even though I am connected.

  18. Ben Wolford

    Thanks for reaching out. I’m not sure why that would be happening. Please contact support@protonvpn.com with details.

  19. JUSTME

    You recommend changing default router pw.
    How does anyone gain access to your router/password?

  20. ProtonVPN Admin

    Hello! The default router credentials are generic and can be hacked. Therefore, we suggest using custom credentials for your router for security reasons.

  21. Bassam Ismail

    Can the ProtoVPN free section protect your IP address if it’s compromised?

  22. Augustinas

    Hello Bassam, it depends on how exactly your current IP is compromised, however, your internet traffic will be protected if someone is trying to monitor it real-time

Comments are closed.

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