The Internet Protocol address is a numerical identifier that is used by a particular device or computer. As computers are connected to the internet, those addresses enable them to send and receive data.
They are divided into four categories: public, private, static, and dynamic.
Since they enable information to be sent and received to the appropriate parties, they can also be used to track down a user's physical location.
Your Internet service provider assigns a public IP to your network router so that it can be reached directly over the Internet. When you connect to the internet using your router's address, your personal computer has another one (private) that is hidden, and not used on the Internet.
Private addresses are not routed over the Internet and cannot receive traffic directly from the Internet; they are only intended to function within the local network.
They are more reliable than public ones in terms of security since they are not directly accessible on the Internet and are hidden behind NAT, which also guarantees the security of the home network.
When using a public address, extra security precautions are needed for the device or server that is exposing its services to the Internet, such as using a firewall to close ports and protocols that the server does not use.
When you visit a website with your browser, a request leaves your computer, travels to the website's server, and returns with the details you asked for. Along the way, terrorists, snoopers, marketers, and nosy government agencies share location and identification information, which is often intercepted.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a software service that encrypts all internet traffic and routes it through a VPN server in another country. Websites and online applications only see the server's IP address, not your own, since the VPN server serves as a middleman for your browser and the Internet.
Most VPNs are monthly subscription programs that have links to hundreds or even thousands of servers around the world for a few dollars per month. You just need to register and download the appropriate applications on your phone.
A proxy server is a device connected to the internet that has its own IP address, which your computer recognizes. When you make a web request, it first goes via the proxy server. After that, the proxy server makes the site request on your behalf, receives the response from the website, and forwards the web page data to you so you can use it in your window.
When the proxy server forwards your site requests, it will alter the data you send while still delivering the results you intend. Your address can be changed by a proxy server, but the webserver doesn't know where you are in the country. It has the ability to encrypt your files, making them unreadable while in transit. Finally, a proxy server may restrict access to certain web pages depending on the user's address.
As we've seen by showing your IP on this page, there's no place you can go online where you won't be watched. The best way to avoid being watched by your ISP, ad networks, or search engines when using the Internet is to mask your address. This allows you to surf while remaining anonymous.
Avoiding political censorship
Certain countries regulate and filter their people's online activities. Your IP could be used against you to prove anti-government activities, which could lead to felony charges or worse. Hide your address if you go online to get around this procedure.
Avoid being hacked
Just as your ISP, search engines, and governments can track you down using your IP address, hackers can as well. These nefarious individuals can be able to learn your name and location, in addition to monitoring your movements. This exposes you to the risk of ransomware and other forms of cyber-attacks.
Accessing blocked content
When connected, you can access premium platforms like Netflix regardless of your location, by hiding your own IP address and selecting one that makes the server thinks that you're located elsewhere.
Using public WiFi with caution
Free WiFi is available almost anywhere these days, and can be really appealing to users on the go or anyone who doesn't have their own WiFi network at home. Although it can seem to be a good idea, using free WiFi without concealing your IP address will lead to catastrophe. Hackers are known for compromising the data of unwitting consumers using free and unsecured WiFi networks.