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The VPN forwards the request for you and forwards the response from the website back through the secure connection. If you’re using a USA-based VPN to access Netflix, Netflix will see your connection as coming from within the USA. Some content is blocked by the government in certain areas, such as in China and the Middle East. If you can hide your real IP address and make it look like you’re browsing from another region, you can get around these restrictions and view blocked websites. Private companies also often geo-lock their content, making it unavailable in certain countries.

Though it is possible to configure some software with a proxy, it is usually a nightmare to setup and one misstep could leave you unprotected. For ease-of-use and top-level security, it’s difficult to beat a VPN. But unlike a proxy, any decent VPN will also encrypt your traffic before it even leaves your computer.

Similar to physical addresses, IP addresses allow computers on the internet to find each other and communicate. IP addresses are an integral part of the IP protocol, the foundation on which the internet is built.

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Press the connect button, and you’re magically connected to a VPN on a server somewhere else in the world. When you browse the web while connected to a VPN, your computer contacts the website through the encrypted VPN connection.

Just like your postcode, your IP address was created by a central authority — the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority . Once created, the IANA assigns each IP address to one of five Regional Internet Registries , which hands them out in turn to internet service providers in their region. 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. To get IP settings assigned automatically, select Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically.

  • While strangers may not be able to find you, your ISP knows where you are.
  • One has set up an illegal money spinning website that hacks IP webcams in private homes and broadcasts the live feeds.
  • In some circumstances they may locate the city you are in, or perhaps a nearby city, but they will not have your physical address.
  • ISPs will generally go to great lengths to protect you and your privacy but they do keep logs of your connections.
  • Another exposes zero-day attacks used by Eastern European malware gangs and cannot afford for them to track him down in the real world.
  • Once they trace you back to your ISP they will lose your trail.

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For example, this happens a lot on YouTube, where some countries, likeGermany, block copyrighted content outright, rather than using YouTube’s monetization model. One of the big reasons that people hide their IP addresses is so that they can download illegal material without being tracked. But there are a lot of other reasons you might want to hide it. If your online activism is putting your life at risk, we recommend using Tor.

Again, I’ll sidestep the nitty gritty details on how the IP protocol works. For the most part, these two addresses serve the same purpose. If you want to hide your IPv4 address, then you’ll probably want to hide your IPv6 address as well, if you have one. Some of you might have IPv6 connectivity, although it hasn’t been adopted everywhere yet. If your internet provider offers IPv6 on its network, you can look up your IPv6 address as well.

If someone does work out your real IP address, it won’t help them much — the sites you visited and what you did there will be hidden in a long string of meaningless characters. So if you care about internet privacy and anonymity, blocking your IP address is the very first thing you should do.

Otherwise, a VPN is probably all you need to hide your IP. As a result, law enforcement agencies like the NSA and FBI, and even more troubling agencies abroad, have been accused of setting up dozens of Tor exit nodes. As a tool so often used to commit cybercrime, you can bet Tor is a major target for intelligence services. One final option to block your IP address from prying eyes is Tor. Tor stands for “The Onion Router”, and with good reason.

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