Ever got the creepy feeling that you’re being followed? You might not be entirely wrong. When you surf the internet, there are several entities that keep a track of your details, including your location.
When you’re on the internet, you’re assigned an IP address. It looks something like this: 192.168.23.132
This magic number holds important details and when you visit a website, the web admin gets to know some bits about you, such as your location and your internet provider.
You might think that your IP address reveals your home address but it doesn’t. Even the city details given by the IP might not be correct. However, it does give the web admin an idea about your whereabouts.
If you want to stay secure and hide your location on the internet, here are some things you can do.
Use a proxy to hide your location
Look around and you’ll find several free proxies. When you open a website through a proxy, it redirects your traffic through a proxy server so the website you visit sees the IP of that server and not your real IP.
So far so good. But the problem is that many free proxies add trackers to follow your browsing habits. Can you really blame them, though – they’re offering free services, they need something in return.
With a proxy, you’re laying open your information to the proxy server. So while you’re able to change your location, it’s not really a safe thing to do, which brings us to the second option.
Use a VPN to hide your location
A VPN, in addition to changing your location, also encrypts your traffic. A proxy only covers the traffic you send through your web browser. The other applications on your device aren’t covered by a proxy. For example, if you’re downloading a file using BitTorrent, that traffic will not be passed through the proxy server.
On the other hand, a VPN will cover all the activities you perform online. It will also keep you protected on unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi hotspots. However, a proxy will not protect you there.
But a VPN isn’t the only reliable solution. There is also a third option.
Use Tor to hide your location
Tor is a network that sends your data over several nodes before directing it to the final destination. The website you visit can see the IP of the last node.
There are some limitations to Tor though – it makes the connection slow since the traffic hops over several nodes. Also, like a proxy, Tor will cover only your browsing session. Tor is more reliable than a proxy but will not cover your torrent activity.
If you want to cover your tracks when you’re online, make sure you hide your location using any of these three options.
To learn more about the pros and cons of each of these three methods, please read “Tor vs VPN vs Proxy“