There are various reasons to hide your IP address at all times, from enjoying unrestricted content from abroad to increasing your level of protection and anonymity, both on public and domestic Wi-Fi networks. It can also help against targeted ads delivered through social media platforms. It’s important to acknowledge, however, that for most everyday users hiding their IP address may not make much difference, especially if they share every second of their lives on social media and don’t intend on doing anything risky.
Enjoying Unrestricted Content and Avoiding Ads
Nowadays most online content websites or services have some sort of restrictions in certain countries, while others are completely blocked for copyright and other reasons. Let’s say you live in a country where streaming websites are blocked, Turkey, for instance. Your computer will be using a Turkish IP address and these sites immediately recognize that and will block it. Therefore, using a VPN to connect to a server in other country will disguise your IP address as one belonging to the connected country, and because virtually you’re no longer located in Turkey the site will now become available.
The same happens to social media, gaming websites or other platforms that are typically blocked in a school, office or other working environments. These entities either use specific software to enforce such blocks or simply add their domains to the network’s blacklist, but regardless of the method they use VPNs can always work around it.
Likewise, hiding your real IP address also helps in avoiding intrusive targeted ads. Social media websites are just the most well-known for doing this, but many others do so too. Most VPNs nowadays already feature ad blockers or some other sort of protection.
Public Wi-Fi and Intruders
The evolution of technology has allowed people to connect to the internet without needing a stationary computer anymore and so nowadays smartphones and tablets are everywhere, much like the public Wi-Fi hotspots that we all want to connect to. For hackers, all it takes is the appropriate knowledge of the software and some unsuspecting people to sign into their social media or bank accounts to get ahold of their personal details, which is why it is usually on these hotspots that hackers can be found lurking for victims. Because such a network is public, its owner can see which devices are connected to it but also what sites or services they are accessing. In turn, not only can hackers manage to easily see this too, but they can also spread ransomware attacks or, even worse, steal the identity of their victims for credit card fraud.
In addition, they can also create fake Wi-Fi spots that mimic the original ones, meaning you will end up connecting to the hacker’s laptop rather than the real thing.
With a VPN, not only are you masking your IP address but all the data traffic that you send from your device is encrypted, meaning that even if the hacker could somehow intercept your data it will instead appear as complete gibberish that would be impossible to decode.
ISPs and Legal Activities
It’s this same gibberish that your ISP will see when you use a VPN to hide your real IP address and disguise it for another. This means that many people rely on VPNs when torrenting, which is actually perfectly acceptable in some countries. But even if the VPN provider also firmly supports P2P sharing, it’s still important to remember that they aren’t an excuse to take part in illicit activities. Torrenting is illegal in most countries and this doesn’t change just because you have a VPN, so if you do want to use a VPN to protect you from getting caught then you will need to take great care.
The Best VPNs of 2020
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Have all your VPN related questions answered by checking our VPN experts' answers to frequently asked questions:
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- Can a VPN Provider See My Traffic and History?
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- Should I Use a VPN All the Time?
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- Why Should I Hide My IP Address?
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- Won’t a VPN Slow my Internet Connection Down?