How to Use a Fake IP Address and Mask Yourself Online
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We’ve argued before that online anonymity is important. And as the notion of privacy gets trampled on with each passing year, online privacy only becomes more important. You’d be surprised by what someone can do with just your IP address.

Which is why many people use fake IP addresses. To be clear, “fake IP address” is a bit of a misnomer that implies creating a new one out of thin air. That’s not possible. The best you can do is hide your IP address behind someone else’s already-existing IP address.

This means you can’t truly be anonymous on the internet—your actions can be traced back to you. But masking your IP address is good enough for functional anonymity.

Method 1: Using a VPN

VPN stands for virtual private network, but is much simpler than it sounds. Basically, you can connect your computer or device to someone else’s network, then browse the web through their network. Whatever activity you’re doing looks like it’s coming from them, not from you.

When you connect to a VPN, you’re masking your IP address with one of the IP addresses on that network. To trace the traffic back to you, the VPN would have to give you up (or your IP address would have to be revealed via DNS leak).

How to Use a Fake IP Address and Mask Yourself Online hide ip address with vpn
Image Credit: Denys Prykhodov/Shutterstock

For best results, use a paid VPN service because free VPNs come with too many risks and downsides. Of the many risks, the most important one is that you can never quite trust a free service. Are they selling your data? If asked, would they give up your true IP address? It does happen.

As such, we only recommend using a logless VPN. Such VPNs don’t keep activity logs, so they can’t give up your IP address even if requested. Plus, most logless VPNs encrypt all of your traffic to and from the network, preventing any snooping by ISPs or governments.

VPNs are useful in so many circumstances. See our compilation of notable activities when a VPN is crucial and educate yourself on these common VPN myths.

Which VPN Should You Get Started With?

ExpressVPN and CyberGhost are both excellent options. If neither suit you, check out our overview of best VPN services. Long story short: whichever service you pick, you just download an app, run it, and use it to connect to the VPN on demand. It’s really that simple.

Use this link for up to 49% off ExpressVPN plans!

Method 2: Using a Web Proxy

A web proxy works in much the same way as a VPN: you connect to the proxy server, then all your web traffic flows through the proxy server. As such, your IP address gets hidden by the proxy server’s IP address.

But there are two major differences between proxy and VPN.

First, web proxies are typically unencrypted. Even if your IP address is masked by a proxy, the traffic itself can still be sniffed by ISPs and governments. Not only that, but some websites may still be able to see your real IP address using Flash or JavaScript.

Second, some browsers let you route only browser traffic. To use a web proxy, you go into your web browser’s settings and manually input the proxy server’s IP address. This allows applications and devices outside the web browser, like Skype, to still use your actual IP address.

Find a free web proxy using a site like PremProxy or Proxy List. Using a proxy server in your country will keep it fast, but using a proxy server in another country can be useful for bypassing region-blocked content and adding a tiny layer of extra obscurity.

How to Set Up a Web Proxy in Firefox

How to Use a Fake IP Address and Mask Yourself Online hide ip address with proxy firefox

  1. In the main menu, select Options.
  2. Navigate to the Advanced tab, then the Network section.
  3. Under Connection, click Settings…
  4. Select Manual proxy configuration, then type in the proxy’s address and port in the HTTP Proxy field.

How to Set Up a Web Proxy in Microsoft Edge

How to Use a Fake IP Address and Mask Yourself Online hide ip address with proxy edge

  1. In the main menu, select Settings.
  2. Scroll down and click View advanced settings.
  3. Scroll down and click Open proxy settings.
  4. Under Manual proxy setup, enable Use a proxy server, then type in the proxy’s address and port in the Address field.

How to Set Up a Web Proxy in Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi

How to Use a Fake IP Address and Mask Yourself Online hide ip address with proxy windows

  1. In the main menu, select Settings.
  2. Under Network, click Change proxy settings…
  3. In the Connections tab, click LAN settings.
  4. Enable Use a proxy server for your LAN, then type in the proxy’s address and port in the Address field.

Note: Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, and other Chromium-based browsers do not have a built-in browser-specific proxy feature. Instead, they only use system-wide proxy settings. However, you can use an extension like Proxy Switcher & Manager to use web proxies that only affect browser traffic.

Method 3: Using Public Wi-Fi

Instead of routing your traffic through another person’s network, you can opt to connect directly to their network—and the easiest way to do this is to hop onto public Wi-Fi.

The funny thing is that this is really the only way to hide your home IP address. When you’re on public Wi-Fi, there’s no way for someone to trace it back to your home. And if it’s a popular hotspot (e.g. Starbucks), your activity will be obscured by dozens of other users at any time. But remember that public Wi-Fi has its own risks!

How to Use a Fake IP Address and Mask Yourself Online hide ip address with public wifi
Image Credit: Igor Martis/Shutterstock

By default, most public Wi-Fi hotspots are unencrypted. All your activity while connected can be seen by anyone else on the network (if they’re sniffing it out), which includes login details for websites like banks and e-commerce shopping. Public Wi-Fi hotspots can also spread malware infections to your device.

On top of this, there are several other ways for hackers to steal your identity on public Wi-Fi 5 Ways Hackers Can Use Public Wi-Fi to Steal Your Identity 5 Ways Hackers Can Use Public Wi-Fi to Steal Your Identity You might love using public Wi-Fi -- but so do hackers. Here are five ways cybercriminals can access your private data and steal your identity, while you're enjoying a latte and a bagel. Read More . So while you might be hiding your IP address, you’re still opening yourself up to a whole host of other privacy and security risks.

Are You Protecting Your Online Privacy?

Did you know that you are the biggest threat to your online privacy? Most of us tend to share way too much info online Online Privacy: Do You Share Too Much Information? Online Privacy: Do You Share Too Much Information? Sharing has always been a prominent part of what the Internet is and how it functions. And with social networks exploding in popularity in the past several years, sharing is probably the one aspect we... Read More . If you’re really worried, your first step should be to read our guide to online security and privacy The Complete Guide to Improving Your Online Security and Defending Your Privacy The Complete Guide to Improving Your Online Security and Defending Your Privacy Everyone wants your data, reputable companies and criminals alike. If you want to build up your defenses and protect yourself online, let us guide you through how to improve your security and safeguard your privacy. Read More .

Image Credit: Alexander Yakimov/Shutterstock

Explore more about: IP Address, Online Privacy, Private Browsing, Proxy, VPN.

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  1. Damy
    May 30, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    I'm currently with nordvpn and so far so good. I use it mostly for torrenting and I feel secure because they work under the jurisdiction of Panama and seem to be most focused on protecting my browsing data.

    • Andy
      June 25, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Agree with you. IMO Nordvpn is an overall excellent provider.

  2. Mohuya Dey
    December 11, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Very useful article, I always use vpn while browsing Internet so that I can use fake IP address and keep myself safe from hackers. Some famous vpn services are pure vpn, acevpn, express vpn.

  3. John du toi
    September 22, 2017 at 11:06 am

    I see you have not mentioned the tor network any reason for this?

  4. Stone Forest
    July 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Every time you physically disconnect and reconnect (hot or cold unplug/replug), you have a new IP address, anyway. Look up 'What's my IP (address)' to check this out.

    But I suppose that very few people ever do this, given that many people I know have their systems permanently connected.

    Personally speaking, before I do online banking, I unplug/replug. Then, once I have finished, I disconnect and unplug, and run Bleachbit to clear the cache (I use a customised Linux).

    As a result, the banks' websites ask me for further security details, because they do not recognise my computer.

    • Dan
      July 1, 2017 at 10:03 pm

      I haven't seen an ISP do that in about 10 years. Most have set their lease time to days/weeks. If you're still lucky enough to be able to change your IP so simply, enjoy it while it lasts.

      • Stone Forest
        July 2, 2017 at 11:54 am

        Apologies: I did neglect to mention that I use a mobile broadband dongle, and that I'm in the UK. Is it really that 'hard set' in the USA?

        • Dan
          July 2, 2017 at 12:29 pm

          For better the marketers (and government) to track you...

          I had a friend recently that put in a "disposable" email to get some information from some investment company recently from his home desktop computer. Within half an hour his cell phone rang. It was the investment company. They knew his real name, address, cell number, landline number, even the gross amount of his pension and what government agency he retired from. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they could tell you "boxers or briefs" as well.

          George Orwell was a very astute and intelligent man.