Should I Hide My IP Address?
A vast majority of people want to hide their IP address because they think it will give them anonymity on the internet and keep hackers from hacking their computer.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
Can I Surf The Net Anonymously?
The short explanation is that you're not completely anonymous when you're surfing the inter-webs. With enough resources, almost anyone can be found no matter how they hide their IP or their tracks. To remain completely anonymous, it takes extreme diligence when using your computer and the means in which you connect to the internet. Almost every server/computer you connect to via the web will have a log file. People are often concerned with others getting their IP address from those log files. Theoretically, only the servers owners have access to those log files.
An example would be Facebook. If you visit Facebook, whether you're logged in or not, they'll see the IP address from which you are connecting. Does this mean they're going to track you down and spy on you? NO! Get over your paranoia. There are over a billion users on Facebook, why in the world, would they single you out? Are you trying to hack their servers? Guess what, they'll block your IP and move on. However, if you're successful with nefarious activity on their site, they very well could spend the resources to find you depending on the level of severity or threat you may pose to their business. However, if you're just the average, everyday surfer, they don't care what your IP address is, nor do most other sites.
Here's where you should be the most concerned in my opinion. Why hide your IP address when you post everything about your life on social media sites? I get questions all the time about ways to remain anonymous, etc. I look up the IP address from where the email came, I go to Google, I type in the senders name or email address, and almost 100% of the time, I find who this person is and what they look like within the first 10 results.
Don't believe me? Go to Google and search for your name, your email address, or your username. Yes, your username. Any username you've used to post to a forum or other site. It's out there and it's all information that you provided. There are some exceptions. Some places where you might sign up for a credit card or cell phone actually sell your data (home address, age, gender, etc.) and sites publish this information.
Alternatives to hiding your IP address
Hiding your IP address is a good step in protecting yourself online. I don't want you to think it's useless, but it's certainly not the definitive measure that keeps your online status anonymous or protected.
1. You should make as many of your profiles private. Especially sites like Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media sites. Keep your private information private.
2. Get a Google Voice number so if you absolutely have to provide a phone number, you can give out that number and still receive calls and text messages without giving out your real number.
3. Not using your real name online is helpful, however, if you connect with friends on social media using an alias, one of your friends is bound to use your real name in a comment or when posting something to your wall. If your profile is private from the public, but your friend's profile isn't and the post was on their wall, someone with enough resources digging down to find out who you are just got one step closer.
You're only as private or anonymous as your weakest link. The only true way to remain anonymous online is to not even connect to the internet. 😉