Your IP address reveals much about you, maybe more than you think. Hiding your IP address is essential to maintain your security and privacy. This article will explain to you the role of an IP address, how third parties can use it, and why you should secure it
IP addresses in a nutshell
An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique identifier for recognizing and locating a connection. It can be presented in 2 different formats:
- IPv4 addresses are 4 numbers between 0 and 255, separated by a dot.
- IPv6 addresses consist of more than 39 digits separated by 2 dots.
In practice, each connection is characterized by 2 IP addresses:
- A public address is used to identify you and allow you to send or receive information (i.e., browse the web).
- A private address is used to identify specific equipment within a private or public network.
Finally, other characteristic concerns the generation of these addresses. Thus, a user may be assigned an IP address:
- Dynamic, therefore voluntarily and possibly changing during each connection.
- Static, therefore permanently assigned to the equipment, despite its reinitialization (the internet user generally defines this setting).
By limiting yourself to this information, it would be difficult to understand why hiding your IP address is essential. However, suppose this data is used to identify and guarantee the sending or receiving of data. In that case, it can also serve as an access point for third parties wishing to spy on your activity or perform malicious actions.
What are the risks if your IP address is leaked?
- Your IP address can be tested to check the port status of a connection and attempt to penetrate your network.
- Other risks, such as DDoS attacks, are also possible if your IP address is leaked.
- Your IP address can be used to identify your geolocation. In addition to possible commercial profiling, other risks must be taken into account, such as the identification of your location by burglars.
- Your IP address may be used in a business context to track and analyze your online activities continuously.
- Your IP address can be marketed on the Dark Web and lead to other consequences, such as identity theft. Some hackers do not hesitate to use the identity of their victims to accuse them of illegal activities.
How to secure your IP address?
As you know by now, a simple leak or voluntary disclosure of your IP address can have many consequences. Fortunately, it is possible to considerably limit such risks without requiring special technical knowledge.
Keep your firewall active and up to date
A firewall is a crucial tool directly integrated into the operating software (OS). Often considered an antivirus, this tool performs an entirely different role: checking, opening, or closing each port of your connection. It is essential to remember that these ports can become real gateways for hackers if you do not activate your firewall. Likewise, if this tool is not regularly updated, it could have flaws and directly affect your cybersecurity.
Install a VPN
VPNs are perfect tools to replace your IP address and thus maintain your online privacy and security. A quality VPN will also give you other features, such as protection against malware or blocking online tracking tools.
Maintain your privacy via your email
Hackers use instant messengers and many other applications to identify the IP address of their victims after simply answering a call or message. It is, therefore, essential not to respond to any contact that seems illegitimate. Also, if possible, feel free to set your account to “private.”