Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

There are several types of services available that can help hide an IP address while you are on the internet; and also several potential problems involved.

As a UK-based journalist who travels a lot (I'm currently in the Mideast), I don't always want my whereabouts to be known. Is there a safe and reliable way to falsify my IP address to show me at home in the UK?

In this excerpt from Answercast #34, I look at several services that can help you alter or hide your IP address while traveling.

Hiding an IP address

There are approaches, but they're not necessarily reliable, because they are often blocked by foreign governments that don't want you to do exactly what it is you are attempting to do.

There are a couple of approaches that I might take to this problem.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

One would be to sign up for a VPN service that is based in the country you want to appear as if you are from.

  • That provides a secure connection from wherever you are to the VPN servers, wherever they are located.

  • Then, all of the accesses you might be making from the outside would appear as if they were coming from the VPN's service.

That's a pretty quick way, a pretty easy way, to make sure that everything looks as if it's coming from another location.

Anonymization services

The other, and more traditional, approach that people use are anonymization services or anonymous proxies; Tor is one example.

  • That uses proxy servers around the world to obfuscate where it is you happen to be located.

  • And to truly anonymize the connection of your computer to whatever the destination is.

The problem with those is that they happen to be specific to web access only. It's possible that may be sufficient for you.

A web-based proxy, that is perhaps located in your home country, would be one way to go.

Tor

Another would be, like I said, something like Tor, which would direct your connection through any number of different proxies around the planet.

  • That would definitely obscure where it is you're coming from.

Connection latency

The problem with most proxies, and admittedly potentially a problem with the VPN service (depending on the service you choose), is that they will add a bit of latency; they will slow down your connection to the internet somewhat.

That's something that I would experiment with.

  • The first thing that comes to mind (for the scenario that you outlined) is something like a VPN. Hopefully, the VPN won't be blocked by whatever country it is you're visiting.

  • If they are, you might want to chat with the VPN support personnel first to see if they have alternative ways of configuring the VPN software you would run on your machine to get around some of the blocks that might be placed.

End of Answercast #34 Back to – Audio Segment

Article C5579 - July 12, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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2 Comments
bob price
July 13, 2012 10:06 AM

If you use a false IP addy, then fine, but if you also do any kind of online banking or finances, be prepared to spend more time and annoying steps to access your accounts. This might be a good thing, but be ready for it. It seems most online financial sites, credit cards, banks, investment sites, etc, use your IP addy as part of the access verification.

Yes, you can still get there, but it will add a lot of very annoying steps to prove that you are really you.

Marten G
July 18, 2012 9:26 AM

Hello. When I click on the 'Tor' link in the text above, (tor.eff.org), my ISP security blocks it as a "dangerous website that can transmit malicious software or has been involved with online scams or fraud", Any comments on this? Thanks. mg.

Yep. Your ISP is wrong. http://eff.org is not malicious, and https://www.torproject.org/ (which is where tor.eff.org takes you) is not malicious.
Leo
20-Jul-2012

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