There are a number of ways hackers can access your computer, but using your computer’s IP address as a backdoor to access your files is one of the most insidious. IP addresses are required to access the internet, but because of the risk posed by hackers, it’s important to know what your IP address is and how to hide your IP address from others. Along with that several businesses and companies use two factor authentication products to safeguard each user’s identity and protect them against hackers.
IP stands for Internet Protocol, and an IP address identifies your unique computer on the internet. Depending on how you access the internet, your computer is automatically assigned an IP address either by the internet router or internet service provider that you use. Contained in your IP address is information that identifies your computer, where it is in the world, and how to access it.
If you are assigned an IP address by an internet service provider, your IP address may change each time you log on, but if you never log off or are using a home network with an IP assigned by your router, your IP address may not change for long period of time. If a hacker determines your IP address, they can use it to access your computer until the address changes.
Why You Should Hide Your IP Address Online
Due to the number of ways that hackers can use your IP address, you should know how to hide your IP address online. Remaining logged on to the internet for long periods of time can make it easier for hackers to access and exploit your IP address. Just a few examples of how your IP address can be used against you:
- The so-called “ping of death,” an attack on your computer that causes a system crash
- Ping flooding, in which so many packets of information are sent to your computer that it cannot access the internet
- IP spoofing, one of the most common attacks according to Symantec, in which hackers use your IP address to enslave your computer for denial of service attacks
- IP tracking, in which your IP address is tracked from a website that uses geolocational tracking, like Mapquest, or by hacking into your internet service provider’s database to get your address (note that this requires dedication and a very high degree of technical know how, but it can still be done)
Now that you know the ways hackers can use this information against you, you can see why I hide my IP address.
Hiding Your IP Address for Free
In addition to the risks posed by hackers obtaining your IP address, websites track individual IP addresses so that they can determine their repeat traffic rates and the areas where most of their visitors live. This article by How to Geek explains how this information is combined to track you; after you read it, you will want to hide your IP address from other websites.
The following sites offer tools that you can use for hiding your IP address for free. However, you should never use a free proxy for logging in to any site, since you are routing any information you type through the proxy’s servers.
- VectroProxy. VectroProxy allows you to visit specific web addresses with a masked IP address, so the website cannot see the IP address you are actually using.
- Proxify. Proxify allows you not only to mask your IP address, but to block cookies, scripts, and ads from a website.
- Online Anonymizer. Faster than most proxy services designed to hide IP addresses, the Online Anonymizer is completely free and protects your browsing history and IP address from unfriendly eyes.
Paid Services to Hide Your IP Address
In addition to the free proxy sites listed above, you can purchase IP masking services. These are more convenient, since you do not have to navigate the web through a proxy’s website. They are also more secure, although you should be wary of logging in to any secure website using a proxy, even one that you paid for. With that in mind, here are two paid services that will help you with how to hide your IP address.
- Easy Hide IP. Easy Hide IP routes your internet traffic through remote servers, so the addresses of those servers appear to be the IP address of your machine. Easy Hide IP costs $29.95 per year or $4.95 per month for a subscription.
- Hide My IP. Hide My IP offers a 14 day free trial that allows you to use the program for surfing the internet and logging in to secure sites with a hidden IP address. You can also mask your IP from email servers. After the free trial, Hide My IP is just $29.95.
If you don’t want to use a paid service to hide your IP address, there are a few other things that you can do to mask your computer’s location online. First, you should be using a good firewall. A good firewall will always be the best defense against incoming malicious attacks. You should also reset your IP address regularly (here’s a handy guide on how to do that on Windows Vista and 7 by iPrivacyTools). Using either of these tricks in conjunction with an IP masking service will help you protect your IP address against hackers.