You’ve probably heard about IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and how they can be used to track your activity online but did you know it’s fairly easy to obscure your IP address to cover your tracks?
Since IP addresses are one of the primary identifiers on the Internet the ability to hide your IP address is very important from a web privacy and anonymity standpoint.
There are a few different tools you can use to hide your ip address:
Come to think of it you could say these are all just variants of the proxy server idea. Today let’s look at a quick and easy way to use a free proxy server to mask our system’s ip address. It’s not particularly advanced but it can be handy for a level of anonymity especially for temporary use.
Using the Free Ixquick Proxy Server
The Starting Page search engine by Ixquick is intended for the privacy minded search user and (according to their privacy info page) doesn’t keep logs of your ip address or search keywords.
Another cool feature of the search engine you might not immediately notice is the option to access search results via a proxy server. Why would you want to do that?
When you go to https://startingpage.com the search engine doesn’t record your ip address however once you enter a search phrase and click one of the results the website you click through to visit can and usually does record your ip address. The third party website can also use tracking cookies to identify you on future visits.
Note: Skip down to see the video how-to…
Here’s what the website WhatIsMyIPAddress.com sees when I visit it directly without going through the Ixquick proxy:
That IP information, along with the type of web browser I used, is what any other website I visit will see as part of my identifying information.
But suppose I got to https://startingpage.com and search for “what is my ip address.”
My top result is the website I just mentioned:
Notice the link that says “View by Ixquick Proxy” in the image above? That is what you want to click to access the web site through the proxy server which will hide your ip address.
When we access the WhatIsMyIPAddress.com site through the proxy server we get the result below. Notice how the IP address and location is different then my original results shown above where I accessed the website directly.
Here’s a little video illustration of the Ixquick proxy in action:
Not Perfect, But It Is Free
Using the Ixquick proxy server to hide your IP address isn’t the most advanced and functional way to use a proxy server for Internet anonymity but it is a handy tool for times when you might not have access to your normal computer or software. Perhaps at an Internet cafe or the library.
Give it a shot and let me know what you think. If you have other suggestions for free, easy-to-use proxy servers you can share those as well!