Each IP address has two main purposes; identifying the host or network interface, and pinpointing its location. It first singles out the host and then goes on to determine the location of the host, hence establishing a path to that host. The IP address tells us where the host is and the path established, shows us how to get there. A very good illustration of the importance of an IP address is when using search engines. When you type in a word for instance on Google search, a lot of information comes out as a result. But this result has to show up on your computer or phone. The only way this is made possible is through your IP address which serves as a return address.
Since there are tons of digital devices searching the internet every day, there is a need to tell them apart and also the path through which to get to them, in order to deliver the expected data to them. In other words, an IP address is important for getting your desired information back to you over the internet.
Reasons Why You Should Mask Your IP Address
One of the ways of masking your IP address is through VPN services. The VPN does this by encrypting your data which passes through the VPN servers before getting to its destination. The only IP address linked to your information is the one that belongs to the VPN and so, the data you are sending is hidden from prying eyes. Other ways include using a proxy server, TOR (The Onion Router), or your mobile network among others. Below are some of the reasons why you should mask your IP address.
Hide Your Location
Since an IP address functions as a return address for data, it also inadvertently tells us the location of the user who made the request. In other words, following your internet activities, it is easy for someone to tell your location. The accuracy may be a few miles off but the general location is usually correct. This implies that as long as you are on the internet, you are trackable through your IP address. It can produce an uncomfortable feeling knowing that your geographical location is out there for anyone interested enough to track you, to find you. This is an excellent reason to mask your IP address.
Keep Marketers/Ad Networks Off Your Trail
Using your IP address, marketers and ad networks can trail your activities. A good example is after using an E-commerce site to search for a product, you would often see ads for something you had looked up recently on that site, displayed on a completely unrelated site where you are probably on at another time. It is a clever business move that involves using your browsing history and cookies which shows the kinds of sites you browse the most, to carefully tailor ads to your taste and display them on the sites you’re likely to visit.
The goal is to boost the tendency for you to click on these ads and make a purchase. Though considered a cool move by marketers, it can be unsettling knowing that your information is being gathered and use for personal gain with no respect for your privacy. The best way to prevent further invasion of your privacy is if you mask your IP address.
Additional Security When Using Wi-Fi Hotspots
Most hotspots are unprotected and accessible to anyone. Your IP address is visible to everyone when using these hotspots and “everyone” includes hackers. It’s important to keep your personal information and browsing activities safe. This is what masking your IP address does for you. The only visible IP address is the one that belongs to the VPN service provider. This helps to give you an anonymous status in your online activities while on the hotspot.
By-Pass Geographically Restricted Websites
Geographical blocks make content accessible only to browsers within a particular geographical location. This is possible because IP addresses are tied to specific locations. This is common to streaming media sites like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. For instance, you like a show viewed only in the United States and the United Kingdom, and you’re in Africa or in Asia, your IP address shows the site through Geo blocks if you are located in the proper area to view the show.
Masking your IP address produces a virtual location within the website’s area which helps you to bypass the restriction in order to be able to stream the show. If you are on vacation in the areas that have a restriction on the website of your favorite show, masking your IP will also help you stream like you are still at home.
Since all devices need to have an IP address to be able to connect to the internet, and IP addresses give away your location, hiding your IP address is a question of choice, whether you want to keep your internet activities private. Hiding your IP address also empowers you with the privacy that you seek when you are online. It helps you gain control and keep prying eyes away from your data in order to enjoy a protected online experience.
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