You may be familiar with the term “IP address,” but without any clear idea of what it actually means. "IP" stands for "Internet Protocol and the "address" part refers to a unique number that is linked to all your online activity when you go onto the internet.
- When you go online to email, shop, surf or chat, your request from your computer has to be sent to the right destination and the response has to come back directly to you.
- Your computer's networking software is hardwired to follow a list of built-in networking standards and rules. The Internet Protocol is one if the rules responsible for addressing, delivering and routing your online requests precisely.
- It attaches an electronic return address to all your online requests and activity. The address it uses is the IP address for your connection.
Your IP address changes
- Your IP address isn’t nailed down it changes depending on where you are. If you go on holiday and take your laptop, your home IP address doesn't go with you because you'll be using another network to connect to the Internet.
- If you're in a café you're using Wi-Fi a different IP address is assigned to your device by the ISP that provides the café’s internet access. Essentially, as you move around and connect to the internet from different locations your IP address will change each time.
What your IP address can reveal about you
- On its own an IP address can't share much more about you than a generalised location of where you might be at a certain time. But someone who knows what they are doing can look at the online activity associated with a particular IP address. Then, they can stitch together a lot of information about the people or person who's accessing the internet from that address.
- An employer can figure out a lot about the people who are using the internet from work. An ISP could find out a lot about the activities of its subscribers. Or, an online advertising network could associate a particular IP address with a lot of online activity and use it to target advertising.
- Law enforcement has used IP addresses to establish the locations of individuals they are looking for. They can discover all sorts of information such as what is being posted on message boards, online photo sharing, legal and health issues, sexual tendencies, in fact, anything that your web browsing reveals.
A VPN keeps you anonymous
- There are several reasons why you might want to mask your IP address such as hiding your geographical location, preventing web tracking, avoiding a digital footprint, or to bypass content filters or internet access bans.
- A virtual private network (VPN) is the best way to guard your privacy. When you go online, you show the world a different IP address, one that is provided by the VPN service you're using.
- There are other advantages to using a personal VPN service such as high speed bandwidth, a secure connection, private access to blocked sites and the ability to choose the country and city where you appear to be accessing the internet from.
There are hundreds of VPN companies but many of them offer poor quality service that will leave you gnashing your teeth in frustration. BullGuard VPN
, however, is one of the best.
- It delivers top quality connections, a choice of many countries from which you can choose to access the internet from and absolute privacy.
- It doesn’t have a tracking policy and logs of user activity aren’t kept so once you have finished a browsing session, your digital tracks simply evaporate into the electronic ether. There is no trace of you or your activity, you have total internet privacy.