How do I prevent someone from getting my IP address?
This question seems to be rather popular. There are a few easy ways that you can use to keep your IP address private. Which service you use will depend on what your primary function is online. If you are just surfing websites and wish to protect your IP and privacy, you could use an anonymous proxy. However, if you are going to be using applications aside from a simple web browser then you should use a VPN service.
An anonymous proxy allows you to surf the web anonymously as the name suggests. To use an anonymous proxy is as simple as finding a service, you trust, available online. Once you find one, you navigate to their website and use it as a “portal” to access other web sites. While using the proxy service all web traffic to the sites you visit are relayed to you through the proxy system. All IP addresses and connections associated with this traffic point to the proxy servers and do not lead back to you. An anonymous proxy is essentially a middleman between you and all of your website traffic.
A VPN service is a beast of a completely different nature. A VPN is a “virtual private network” and it essentially, as the name suggests, creates a virtual network connection between you and a remote network. Once connected to this remote network you are given an IP address from this remote network. The IP address, assigned to you by the remote network, is the IP address associated with all of your internet traffic through the VPN service. The VPN acts as a translator of all of your network traffic and routes it through the remote network and back to you. VPN services are offered all around the world and can make it appear as if your connection is originating from this remote location. This is by far the safest option to protect your IP and your identity.
While both of these services will protect your identity and IP in different ways, which is a definite pro, they also have cons. When you are forwarding information through a remote computer system, in either case, you may notice a decrease in your connection performance. Just surfing websites may not make this too apparent, but if you start using media intensive websites or applications you may experience latency issues. An example would be residing in North America and using a VPN service in Europe. The severity of the latency will depend on the quality of the service.
Now that you have the information to keep your IP safe it is up to you on how you use it. Just remember that when you use these services, they usually keep logs of their connections. While the providers don't openly share their logs with other people, court orders can still give law enforcement agencies access to them.