Your IP address is the unique number that lets the digital world know the approximate geolocation of the computer network you’re surfing from. You need an IP address to access the internet, so you can’t get along without one. But it’s possible to hide your IP address. Here are some situations when you might want to do just that.
1. When you want to make your browsing sessions private
Google knows you better than your closest relative does. How often do you search for a sensitive topic related to your relationships, personal health or other area of your life you’d rather keep private? This is all recorded by your search engine and your internet service provider (ISP). The websites you visit also record your IP address along with your activity on them. If you simply use private browsing, also known as incognito mode, your browser itself won’t keep your browsing history, but your ISP still will. Hiding your IP address keeps your ISP and search engines from being able to correlate your searches back to you.
2. When you want to unblock the digital world
Some content is georestricted, meaning it’s only available to people in certain countries, or conversely, that it’s off limits to specific countries. The GDPR, for example, has driven some websites to block all visitors from Europe in order to avoid being responsible for processing these users’ data. Your IP address is the indicator of what country you’re coming from. So hiding your actual IP address and replacing it with one from another country, something you can do when you use a VPN, is one way of accessing content you might not otherwise be able to.
3. When you want to keep websites and marketers from tracking you
When they know your IP address, websites can keep track of your browsing activity. Online marketers can follow you around the web and show you ads tailored to your interests based on your browsing history. Hiding your IP address will help stop them from being able to correlate this information to your device.
4. When you just want a layer of privacy
A quick Google search reveals tips and tricks for hackers for finding the IP addresses of random people online. And with your IP address, anyone can find out your city, country and postal code and who your internet service provider is. While it won’t divulge your name, you may feel better knowing your IP address is being concealed.
Hiding your IP address is a smart security and privacy move. What’s more, hiding your IP with a VPN also encrypts all your traffic, for a solid layer of security, especially when using public Wi-Fi. A VPN like F-Secure FREEDOME also includes bonuses such as protection from malicious sites and protection from third party tracking.