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Lukas Motiejunas

May 22, 2020 7 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 rightfully chooses not to bargain with their private data.

Regardless of the trustworthiness of the data holding entities, the switched-on internet community recognizes that the risk of security and data breaches always exists. By surfing online without protecting their identity, people risk becoming vulnerable to various threats and having their personal data exposed. A lot of discussions circulate on the web on how to stay anonymous and more and more people, who care about their privacy, keep asking: how to hide my IP?

In this article, you will learn what an IP address can reveal. We will discuss how to hide IP addresses and what benefits staying anonymous online brings you. Also, would an online business hide their IP address? Of course, companies invest in brand protection but would they hide their websites IP address from the public? Stay tuned and find the answers below.

What does your IP address reveal?

What is an IP address?

First of all, an IP address is a number 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. To some extent, it functions just like our physical addresses do, 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. Clearly, IP address is a necessity, but what information about you does it reveal to the public?

What does your IP reveal? how to stay anonymous?

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 

From the first sight, this might seem reasonable enough, but as always, there is a catch.

What is 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 instance, the Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Office (OPC) experimented with how much information they can gather from a random IP address.

Only by using an IP address as a search term (something every single person can do online), they managed to uncover shockingly detailed information about the user’s online habits. They found out that users behind the chosen IP address visited sites related to specific religious groups, learned about their fitness preferences, and got access to online photo-sharing platform discussion boards where the person took part.

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 the IP address in question.

How to hide IP address using a proxy

If 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 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.

How to hide IP address? Proxy server explained

What’s more, proxies unlock further benefits to their users. Each residential proxy is tied to a specific location and provides access to geo-blocked content, even if the real IP address doesn’t have the power to access this particular online material.

If you are looking to implement proxies into your online browser, check out how to set up a proxy in Chrome. Setting up proxies in your browser enhances your privacy and security levels online.

In a nutshell, proxies allow you to protect your identity online and browse the web 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 to enhance your business performance with proxies, 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, we raised a question whether online businesses should be cautious about their privacy and hide the IP addresses?

The answer is not that simple. 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 most sales. This means their web pages are connected to an IP address. 

What’s more, for effective email communication with their consumers, a public IP address is required. This IP address directs email to the business’ domain address. At this point you may think that there is no way businesses would choose to hide their IP addresses. However, they do. Businesses hide their web servers’ IP addresses, 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 for staying anonymous online

Wrapping it up

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.

When it comes to businesses hiding their IP addresses, they choose to reverse their proxies. This allows companies to hide their public IP addresses in order to secure themselves and their infrastructure.  If you have any further questions or would like to start using our proxies to enhance your privacy online, register for our quick and simple self-service checkout!

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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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