Published: March 24, 2017 Caption by: Charlie Osborne
As your IP becomes firmly linked to your physical identity, it is more important than ever that we take personal responsibility for how exposed we allow ourselves to be online.
If you've ever wondered why adverts on Facebook suddenly appear related to your online searches, there is a reason. Advertisers follow your digital trail to show you ads you may be the most interested in -- but hiding your IP, such as by using a VPN, will stop this tactic working.
To hide your browsing activities
Using incognito browser windows will stop logs of your activity, but taking it a step further, disguising your IP will also do the trick.
Wi-Fi hotspot security
If you are using public, open Wi-Fi services, you do not know if attackers are lurking and waiting to perform man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks to slurp your personal information. By hiding your IP, you add an additional layer of security to your activities if you must use a public hotspot.
Access streaming content
Many online content providers still use geolocation tools to prevent users from certain countries from accessing materials. However, by masking your IP, you can change the location of where you apparently are and circumvent these limitations easily.
Jump over the Great Firewalls
By masking your IP and using a VPN, you can also access blocked websites in countries you are visiting. For example, China blocks many social media channels, but if you set your IP and 'location' to the USA or UK, you can access this content as if you were still at home.
Dance around government surveillance
Many countries in the West are attempting to tighten up surveillance and are not best pleased at the increased use of encryption, and to avoid regulations such as the UK's Snoopers Charter and keep your digital footprint away from government spies, masking your IP is a step in the right direction.
Keep searches private
Whatever you search for online, hiding your IP can prevent them from being linked to you. You could also consider using search engines such as DuckDuckGo, which pride themselves on not tracking users.
So, how do I disguise my IP address?
The easiest method is to use a VPN. My current favorites are ExpressVPN and HideMyAss!. While you can often try out such services for free, it is well worth finding one you like and paying for a subscription for the sake of your privacy.