What Is IP Masking: Everything You Need to Know

what-is-ip-masking-blog

Ever heard people talking about concealing or masking their IP address? In today’s world of rapid technological advancement, one can feel left by the wayside with new terms and trends flying by. So what is IP masking, why would some people do it, and how is it done? Find all of the answers and more here.

IP masking is a way to hide a device’s real IP from any curious interlopers, especially those who might want to gain access to a person’s identity or data. There are a couple of ways to mask IP addresses, and some are easier to use than others.

The 4 main ways an IP can be masked include:

  • Using IP masking software, like proxy servers
  • Using a VPN
  • Using an IP masking browser, like Tor
  • Using public WiFi (not always safe)

Before getting started on those, however, let’s first explore the virtual world of IP addresses and how they work.

What is an IP?

Everyone, everywhere in the world needs numbers to identify them – an ID or social security number, or a home address, for example. These numbers are used to find and separate a person from the rest of the population. It works much the same with IP addresses and any internet-connected device.

Like a home address, an IP address contains information that reveals the device’s geographical location. It also allows other networks to reach it and communicate with it via the internet.

There are two types of IP addresses: static and dynamic.

Static IP addresses are assigned to a device and are then bound to that one device, never changing. Whereas dynamic IP addresses are in constant flux and new ones get assigned to a device over time. Most networks use dynamic IP addresses.

An IP address isn’t just some random number, though. There is a finite number of IPs, and they are calculated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). This authority then allocates blocks of these numbers to different regions. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) take some of those blocks of numbers and assign them to their networks.

Why do some people want to mask their IP?

There may be multiple reasons why a person wants to conceal their IP address. Some simply mask their IP in the name of privacy, while others have more devious reasons. Here are some of the most popular reasons why people want to make use of IP masking software.

  • Hiding their geographical location: there are many reasons why people would want to hide their geographic location, including getting around government and ISP bans.
  • Getting around restrictions: some companies and schools restrict their users on their network from accessing certain sites like YouTube.
  • To bypass any content filters: some websites, especially streaming sites, limit access to their content based on where a device’s IP is coming from.
  • To prevent identity theft: cyber attackers are incredibly motivated to gain access to people’s data. Identities are being sold on the dark web every day.
  • Bypassing censorship: some people have a special reason to not want to be identified, for example, journalists and activists. They hide their identities from oppressive governments or agencies by masking their IP address.

The 4 ways to mask an IP

1. Using IP masking software

There are different types of proxy servers out there, but they all perform the same function: they act as a replacement for a person’s IP address.

A proxy server can be located anywhere in the world, and once a person connects to it, their website traffic goes through the proxy server. Any websites they visit or apps they use then identify the proxy network’s IP address as the user’s IP. This IP masking software hides the user’s IP with a virtual one that isn’t connected to any individual.

The main benefit of using a proxy server is that it masks a person’s IP address. It shares some similarities with using a VPN. However, it isn’t secure at all. Most proxies don’t completely make a person anonymous. A hacker or an ISP would still be able to identify the person’s real IP if they wanted to.

2. Using a VPN

Virtual Private Networks are currently extremely popular and one of the easiest ways to mask an IP. A VPN will send the data through their servers to mask the IP and make a person completely anonymous. An advantage that comes with using a VPN is that it encrypts all the data going through it, making it an extremely secure option. Read more.

There are many VPN services out there to choose from. However, make sure to do some research and find a reputable one. Just note that a VPN may slow down a device’s connection speed a bit.

3. Using an IP masking browser

One of the most popular anonymous browsers out there is Tor (The Onion Router). It’s more commonly known as the way to reach the dark web, but it can be used to access the regular web as well.

Tor browser is a customized version of Firefox that’s not much harder than using a normal browser. It uses endpoint encryption software to hide a person’s IP and secure their data.

The only downside of using Tor is that it can be slow. Mainly due to all of the encrypted nodes the traffic has to pass through.

4. Using public WiFi (not always safe)

Using public WiFi is another option for someone who wants a quick and easy way to mask their IP. The IP used by the public network will replace their device’s IP and afford them some anonymity.

There are two main downsides to this option:

  • Public WiFis are not secure, and hackers are a real threat when connecting to any public network.
  • This won’t solve the geo-blocking or content blocking issues a person might have tried to circumvent.

IP masking is quickly becoming more mainstream, and IP masking methods are getting more user-friendly.