Kiril V. Kirilov
07 November 2018
Obscuring your IP address is a widespread practice for travelers and business needing access to a specific online services when abroad. You may need to hide your IP with a VPN for various reasons – whether its to maintain your email privacy or to securely access private business data. Accessing your personal and business accounts using free and public wifi is certainly not secure, and you’ll need a dedicated IP VPN to ensure a secure connection.
Our guide below explains how to hide your IP with a VPN, and why you need to do so in order to protect your privacy and secure your business and personal communications.
Your Internet Protocol address (IP address) is basically your online ID. Every online connection needs at least two IP addresses to be successful.
There are two types of IP addresses: static IP address and dynamic IP address. A static IP address does not change every time you connect to the internet and, in most cases, can be used to identify you by services that require registration. A dynamic IP address is assigned to you via an internet service provider, which assigns a different address to your connection selecting from a set pool of addresses.
Both serve the very same goal, which is to identify a device before completing connection to a server or a peer.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to hide or change your IP address. It’s software that acts as a medium between your computer and/or another device you use to connect to the internet and a remote server. It tells a server or a peer that your connection originates from a different IP address. You cannot have a completely anonymous internet connection; any online session requires you to provide a valid IP address.
A VPN service is doing just that; it provides a valid IP address to connect to the internet assigning a different address to your connection/device.
User privacy is the most frequently cited reason to use a VPN IP address. While privacy is important, there are use cases when you simply need a VPN to access certain legal online services.
For example, some TV and video streaming providers such as Hulu are unavailable outside the United States or Europe. Others restrict access from certain countries. You cannot perform a Google search in China unless you manage to fool the local servers that your search request is coming from a device based outside China’s mainland. There are numerous other examples where your IP address is crucial for accessing a business service or using a paid service abroad. Countries which restrict certain online sites/ services are fueling the needs for VPNs.
Some countries restrict access to certain news sources, so you will need to hide your IP to get news on your device. Occasionally, a government may decide to block access to specific online services or social media channels. More advanced online blocking mechanisms supported by deep censorships exist that can cut you off from a service completely.
In terms of business, you need to know that accessing your corporate computer network without VPN is considered a major security threat by any system administrator. In this case, it is not only your IP address that matters; you need a secure connection for business communications. A reliable VPN service secures the communication between a VPN client (you) and your company server and encrypts your entire communication. Thus, you get encrypted messaging and data transfer.
Let’s explore all the options available to hide your IP. Basically, you can choose one of the following methods:
The Tor service anonymizes your connections by redirecting your service requests through a vast network of connected computers all over the internet. It is considered a safe method to browse anonymously, although at some level, this anonymity can be compromised.
The Tor browser is however on the slow side, mostly because it requires multiple hops to complete your requests. It is not a service you are going to use for transferring large business documents or for streaming video. Here’s how your Internet connection is completed without VPN:
Source: VPN Scan
A proxy server helps you re-route your connection to avoid content filters applied by many organizations. It is considered a risky method, since it does not encrypt data and can actually compromise your security and privacy. While suitable for personal use on some occasions, using a proxy to access paid and business service is unadvisable.
A free or public wifi connection is the least secure choice for hiding your IP address. Public wifi connections are generally open, meaning anyone can hop on to them and easily hack into your connection to snoop on you. A free wifi that is not protected by a password and basic encryption does not provide better security either.
By obtaining a VPN IP address or a dedicated IP for VPN, you can rest assured your actual IP address is hidden from spying eyes. A reliable VPN service provider will also encrypt your online connection and communications. A few free VPN services also offer encryption features, but use those at your own risk. There is a good chance a free VPN service is selling your browsing or personal data to a third party. In this case, you pay for a free VPN service by giving away your personal data and browsing habits.
We will explore in more detail the basic and advanced functionality of a VPN service in the ensuing paragraphs. The image below shows how your Internet connection functions via VPN:
Source: VPN Scan
A growing number of communications are performed online, and a growing amount of data is communicated over the internet. This applies to both our personal and business experiences. Furthermore, browsing on a mobile device and exchanging info on the go is the new normal.
Both your desktop and mobile devices have IP addresses. So, it makes sense to add an extra layer of protection to both of them in order to combat that various malicious and censoring agents snoop the internet. As we have explained above, the VPN is the most secure and easiest method to hide your IP from the wrong eyes. Moreover, installing and/or setting up a VPN is ridiculously simple.
You can opt for one of the numerous free VPN services available online, but we strongly recommend using a paid version of a VPN software. Based on our experience and supported by regular reviews by trusted online reviewers, we recommend the following VPN services: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Hotspot Shield, NordVPN, Surfshark, Zenmate and PureVPN.
All of these provide layers of protection such as malware protection (which should not replace a decent antivirus suite), ad blocking, as well as protection for multiple devices at once. Thus, you can secure and hide all your connected devices making it impossible for most hackers to track your actual location and original network.
Why is this important? Because your physical location, represented by the IP address, tells a whole lot about you. What’s more, by using a trackable mobile device, you can unknowingly give a potential malicious agent info about your current whereabouts, which can lead to trouble.
In addition, the network from which your IP address originates can also leave you exposed. A competitor can identify you on the internet by, for example,,tracing your comments in professional forums or industry publications. By using a VPN IP address, you obscure your original IP address from competitors that monitor the internet for your content and communications.
Installing a VPN is very easy, with most VPN platforms and applications providing a wizard to guide you throughout the entire setup process. An example of such a wizard by NordVPN is shown below. Their software asks you to select whether you are going to use the VPN for streaming, for making peer-to-peer connections, or if your primary concern is anonymity or security. Then, the wizard will select the best options for you and will further suggest a server location for your VPN-enabled connection.
Once the setup process is complete, you’ll be assigned a VPN IP address that replaces your original one and hides your location, as well as the actual server network from which you are connected.
After you have installed a good VPN app, you can easily change settings, tweak preferences, and switch between options, depending on your particular needs. Most reliable VPN service providers have similar options (they’re actually required options), so we provide examples from different providers.
That is how the selection of a dedicated IP address will look like in PureVPN:
Why would you need a dedicated IP? If you are a business user, you may well need a dedicated IP to access and run some third-party scripts and apps. You also need it to verify the origin of your business emails. A dedicated IP address is required if you use specific third-party apps for personal use, especially when travelling abroad.
The ExpressVPN example above is intended for a Windows device, but almost any reputable VPN provider offers version of its software for Apple’s iOS, Linux, and mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS. For example, you can find a tutorial how to install ExpressVPN on Linux here. Apple’s iOS traditionally pays more attention to user privacy but also restricts certain VPN protocols on their iOS devices. You can rest assured, however, that VPN software developers have managed to implement workarounds that provide the same level of VPN functionality on iOS devices.
Since VPN software may differ in certain setup procedures and adjustment of settings, below is a list of common steps to use to setup and run a VPN service from an OS in order to hide your IP address:
Some particular options may vary from service provider to service provider, but the main steps to install and configure a VPN service will generally follow the above procedures.
From data collected by GlobalWebIndex, we know that every fourth VPN user is utilizing a VPN on a daily basis. This number is only going to grow with the various challenges that internet users face.
With the prices of reliable VPN services starting from around $35 a year and averaging $65 per year, using a decent VPN app is more than affordable for the average user. Furthermore, the online space is getting increasingly dangerous for users who do not pay attention to basic privacy and security precautions.
Firewall and antivirus software are only part of the online security equation when it comes to protecting your computing devices. Hiding your IP by using a good VPN service adds another layer of protection. Using a proxy is not secure enough, while opting for Tor will slow you down. The best option to enjoy safe and secure online connection and hide your IP from anywhere and on any device is to get a reliable VPN service.