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Lukas Motiejunas

May 29, 2019 6 min read

In this day and age, personal data is a currency that allows obtaining better value and quality of products or services. While this seems like a reasonable deal for many, there is a growing internet audience that chooses not to bargain with their private data.

You see, regardless of the trustworthiness of the data holding entities, switched-on internet community recognizes that the level of risk always exists of them experiencing security and data breaches. This could lead to consumers’ data being exposed, and consequently, they would become vulnerable to various threats.

What’s more, such factors as special intimacy tied to a location or exceeded customer profiling among many other trade-offs are becoming unacceptable in the eyes of many. The rising internet community is declaring that enough is enough, and there’s a lot of discussions circulating on the web on how to stay anonymous? Or how to hide my IP?

For these very reasons, this article aims to broaden one’s knowledge of what an IP address can reveal. What’s more, we will discuss how to hide an IP address and what benefits this practice can unlock. Furthermore, a thought came to my mind – would an online business hide their IP? Of course, companies invest in brand protection but would they hide their websites IP address from the public? Stay tuned and find out answers below. 

What does your IP address reveal?

First of all, an IP address is assigned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and is attached to every device online. It serves a purpose to effectively communicate with other online resources. 

Think of an IP address as a personal ID card that classifies every device connected to the internet. In some sort it functions just like our physical addresses does, identifying where the letters, parcels and other goods should be delivered. 

Without an IP address, you wouldn’t be able to access the mighty internet. Ok, so it is a necessity, but what information is disclosed publicly from an IP address?

What does your IP reveal?

Well, your IP address mostly reveals information related to an IP address origin and its geolocation:

  • The Internet Service Provider (ISP) 
  • The IPs hostname
  • Country, region/state, city, latitude and longitude, and area code
  • Any recognized services running on IP address 

To some degree, this might seem reasonable enough, but as always, there is a catch.

What’s the catch?

An IP address leaves its traces online, which makes it possible to determine a user’s behavior on the web for ISPs and eager onlookers for that matter. For instance, the Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Office (OPC) experimented how much information they can reveal from a random IP address. 

They managed by only using an IP address as a search term to uncover that users behind the chosen IP address visited sites related to specific religious groups, fitness preferences, and participated on online photo sharing platforms discussion boards, to name a few. 

These footprints are almost as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The more you connect, the easier it becomes to see the full picture, which consequently allows distinguishing the actual name, surname, and physical address that is associated with an IP address in question. With this in mind, is it not a deal-breaker for you? If yes, and you want to cover your tracks online, one of the ways is by using a proxy, also known as a proxy server.

How to hide na IP address using a proxy

How to hide an IP address using a proxy

Proxy or a proxy server has its own IP address and acts as an intermediary between you and the internet. When internet users utilize a proxy, their internet request flow through the proxy server first, and only then connects to online resources. Once a proxy server collects the response from the web servers, it passes it back to the user, ensuring enhanced levels of anonymity, as a user’s real IP address is not exposed.

Proxy server explained

What’s more, a proxy use unlocks further benefits as if it is tied to a specific location it will provide access to geo-blocked content, even if the real IP address doesn’t have the pleasure to access this particular online material.

We covered how to set up a proxy in Chrome in one of our articles, so check it out and enhance your privacy and security levels online.

In a nutshell, the use of proxies comes in handy if there is a need to browse the internet more privately. But, did you know that proxies are widely used within businesses that are practicing automated data collection? Of course, this is another topic, but if you are interested in discovering how they come in to play, read our in-depth blog post on how to use proxies for business.

Would a business hide their IP address?

At the beginning of the article, a question was raised about whether online businesses should be cautious too and hide their IP addresses. Here’s a conflict of interest, in the e-commerce world, companies have to be visible, well, in order to do business on the internet. Their websites are usually the primary source that generates the lion’s share volume of sales, meaning their web pages are connected to an IP address. 

What’s more, for effective email communication with their consumers, there’s a requirement of a public IP address which directs email to business’ domain address. Feels like we hit the wall and the answer is quite apparent, surely companies wouldn’t hide their IP address!

However, they do. Well, businesses hide their web servers IP address, and one of the ways is by using a reverse proxy. 

What is a reverse proxy?                

A reverse proxy receives a request from internet users, passes it to a web server that can fulfill it, and brings back the server’s response to the user. This means that the real web server’s IP address is never exposed. 

Reverse proxy explained

Wrapping it up

So, now you know what your IP address can reveal, and how proxy comes in handy if you wish to enhance your privacy levels and stay anonymous online. What’s more, it brings a further benefit to access geo-blocked content. Furthermore, hopefully, you found it interesting that a proxy can be reversed, meaning that web servers as well hide their public IP addresses to secure themselves and their infrastructure.  

If you have any further questions or would like to get a consultation, feel free to leave a comment below, drop us a line via live chat or email us at [email protected]

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About Lukas Motiejunas

Lukas Motiejunas is an Account Manager at Oxylabs, and he places a strong personal interest in the market research field. Mainly, in the merge of business sector and digital tools utilization to distinguish the most effective practices to carry out automated market research operations. So if you have any questions relating to market research, he’s your guy to answer them. Lukas believes that he has a hidden talent to be a great chef, although rumor has it, he uses the smoke alarm as a timer.

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