Anonymous surfing is becoming popular as a means to protect your private information on the web. As we move a lot of our daily activity onto the web, more of our personal information is at risk. And so many users are starting to surf the net anonymously.
Other than general privacy, these are some practical reasons why you might need to hide your IP address. There are also a number of ways to hide it, both free and paid.
Everyone likes free stuff, so lets start there. First off, you may have heard of open proxies. Tons of people use them, but just as many swear that you shouldn’t. It’s a great idea, having a bunch of free servers hanging around for anyone to sign in and provide anonymous surfing for anyone, any time. However, the reason that many users refuse to, or are hesitant to use them is because they are just as much of a security risk as they are a help. When you use an open proxy as a go between you and the internet you can never be sure of the motives of those in charge of the proxy. For this reason, I don’t use them, and don’t recommend them.
First, Hide My Ass is a great place to start because they have more than just a proxy. Their web based proxy is free, as well as numerous other tools. Anonymous linking, anonymous uploading, anonymous email, and web browser extensions all come with a price tag of $0. They’ve also got a VPN Service which I’ll talk about later, but suffice to say that they’re a professional company, providing professional services.
Tor is another famous one. Tor has a very unique setup. First, the style of their proxy is very different from others, with a whole complicated explanation of how your traffic bounces around from servers around the world. You can read the whole explanation HERE. They’ve also got a unique philosophy, and rather than the typical “unblock Facebook at school” angle proxy sites take, these guys take a much more serious stance – providing anonymity online for whistle blowers, reporters, the military, and other international agendas. There has been some controversy as to just how anonymous you’ll be with their service, so I would say that if you’re trying to take down your government, don’t use them. iPhone owners and P2P fans, stay away.
Hotspot Shield is another service with a big name in free anonymity online. Though many sites label them a proxy, their main site says it’s a VPN. Either way, its a free download. iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux ready, to use the free version of HSS, you’ll have to deal with advertisements, but that’s about it. They do offer upgrades to a paid version, ad free and with full support. There are a variety of languages available, so this is truly an international company. However, their name in the business has made them a “first target” for governments trying to stop anti-censorship tools. If you’re in China, Vietnam, Iran, Egypt, and other countries that censor the internet, you’re out of luck.
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The problem with surfing the net anonymously on free software is that bandwidth is limited, servers are overloaded, support is slow, and there’s always some annoying advertisements popping up. If you plan on frequently using this software, it’s worth it to pay five to ten bucks a month for a faster connection, and less headache.
SecuriTales is a popular service. It goes without saying that the connection speed is fast and support is superb. It’s a web based proxy, so you can access the proxy mini-browser from your email inbox or their main site. This makes it convenient to hide your IP at school and work, where you don’t own the computer, and can’t install stuff on it. Plus, they are super cheap. They advertise their cheapest package as $6 per month, but with the 25% discount after the FREE TRIAL they offer, it works out to only $4.5 dollars a month. Yes, they offer a free trial, and then a discount. Plus there’s a 30 day money back guarantee.
- Virtual Private Network
There are also plenty of great VPN services out there. IF you read my other articles, you’ll find out that I’m a big fan of VPNs. Sure, proxies have their place, but they can’t touch the comprehensive anonymity that VPNs offer. In addition to anonymous browsing, VPNs also offer anonymity for all other programs running on your computer. Yeah, most proxy services fail to mention that the proxy server only hides your IP while your browsing, and if you use an VOIP software, chatting programs, or games, your local IP is exposed.
In addition to hiding your IP where proxies can’t, they also add “tunneling” to the typical SSL encryption of proxies. This means that not only is your information encrypted, but it’s passed through an encrypted tunnel as it travels to and from the proxy server. Doubly protected against malicious hackers and invasive governments.
Like I said above, I would talk about Hide My Ass’s VPN service. They call it “ProVPN“. Their standard package offers way more than any other VPN service dares to. While any other VPN service would make you choose 1 or 2 server locations, decide which VPN protocol you want, and whether or not you want unlimited bandwidth (meanwhile charging for everything), Hide My Ass gives you everything, for cheaper than their competition does. 36 country locations, 22,000 IP addresses, almost 200 VPN servers and VPN protocols for smart phones as well as computers (Mac, Windows, Linux) for $7 a month. How can they do this when the next guy charges $10 per month for ten server locations in 4 countries and you’re limited to one VPN protocol? I don’t know, but they do it. There’s also a 30 day money back guarantee, so check them out.