Hiding your IP address

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An IP or Internet Protocol address is a unique address that all computing devices use to identify itself and communicate with other devices in the  network. There are several reasons for hiding your IP address:

  1. Tracking. An attacker can use your IP address to trace your connection back to the ISP and eventually track your location.
  2. Attacking: Your IP address gives attackers an entryway into your device. Attackers can scan for open ports in your device using your IP address.

Anonymous browsing works by putting a buffer between you and the website you want to look at. This allows you to view information without being tracked.

How to accomplish anonymity

  1. Using a proxy server

Proxy servers work as a go-between for you and the internet. When you visit a website while connected to a proxy server, the server will  retrieve web pages for you whilst hiding your IP address and other sensitive browsing information. This hides your information from the web server and only displays the proxy server’s information. However, there’s is a slight chance that the proxy server is recording your data and can be used to steal your information. This makes it important to use an anonymous server with a clear privacy policy. Browsing with a proxy service is easy. All you have to do is navigate to the proxy site, enter the URL you’d like to visit and surf while still anonymous.

2. Using TOR browser and network

Tor is a well-known public anonymity network which works by relaying traffic through three different proxies called Tor relays. There are thousands of proxies which are run by volunteers. Whenever Tor browser makes a new connection, it selects any of the relays and encrypts the different phases of the connection, making your IP address appear from a different country. Tor ensures that neither the relays nor your internet service providers can determine your IP address and the location of the websites you are visiting. Using Tor enables one to bypass internet restrictions and censorship. Tor Browser hides your online activities and identity and protects you from internet surveillance.

3. Using Virtual Private Networks

A social movement campaign for the free flow of information in South Africa known as Right 2 Know released a report on surveillance on journalists in the country. The report titled ‘Spooked’ shows significant evidence of targeted surveillance by security agencies towards journalists, especially those who have uncovered government scandals and corruption cases.The purpose of the report was to give journalists a better picture of potential threats and viable solutions for defending and protecting themselves. The campaign is also aimed at ending surveillance abuses and changing the policies that enable them. One of the best ways to avoid surveillance is via a VPN.

Insecure communications make it easier for someone to intercept journalists’ research, sources and stories. Millions of people around the world use VPNs to get access to important information, but VPNs aren’t always reliable or safe. Most VPNs require you to trust a third party organisation with you data, which means you’re not always sure who’s running the servers and providing your access to the internet. Some VPNs don’t even use encryption.

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure tunnel used to protect private web traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship. VPNs extend a private network across a public network, protecting your privacy online and maintaining your data security.

Examples of VPNs

  1. NordVPN

NordVPN helps to shield your internet activity from malware and malicious actors. The VPN protects you from snooping by ensuring that no one can see what websites you are visiting. It also allows you to reach websites that may be restricted in your location. You can access NordVPN on app store or playstore or visit the website to set it up for your personal computer.

2. Hands-on: Set up your own VPN with Outline

Outline VPN lets organisations easily offer their network safer internet access. Outline is completely open source and audited by Radically Open Security.

Outline allows you to:

  • Create and operate your own VPN on a private server to more safely access the internet
  • Get more privacy with your own VPN.
  • Keep your communication private using strong encryption. Outline never logs your web traffic.

Setting up Outline manager

Setting up Outline: For users

  1. Check your email and click the Outline invitation link
  2. Download the Outline App for your device.
  3. Open Outline, click “Connect”, and get access to the open web!

However, it is important to understand that although these tools are useful in hiding your connection and IP addresses, they do not guarantee full anonymity.

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