IP is an acronym standing for Internet Protocol. An IP address is a unique identifying number assigned to a machine on a computer network for communication.
An IP address could be compared to the physical address of a house that uniquely identifies where the house is located. Instead of a house, an IP address identifies the digital address of a machine on a computer network.
There are two versions of IP addresses that have been used on the internet nowadays; i.e. IPv4 and IPv6.
.. Some of the IPv4 addresses are reserved for special purposes; for example, private addresses and multicast addresses. IPv4 addresses are running out nowadays according to the increase of online devices, so they will soon be replaced by IPv6.
An example of an IPv4 address
An example of an IPv6 address
IPv4 and IPv6 cannot communicate with each other directly, and there will be a migration from IPv4 to IPv6 in the future. For now, a dual stack network where both IPv4 and IPv6 are supported is the solution for exchanging the data between IPv4 and IPv6.
A user agent is a text string referring to software acting on behalf of a user, such as a web browser, ftp client, email client, and etc. It's the information that includes the OS, browser name, and browser version a user is using when sending requests to a web server.
For example, this is a user agent representing a user who uses Google Chrome version 74 on Windows 10 browsing the internet.
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/74.0.3729.169 Safari/537.36
You may want to hide your IP address when using the internet. Hiding your IP address has several pros, such as bypassing blocked websites, protecting your online identity, enhancing your online security, and etc.
If you value your online privacy, you should seriously consider hiding your IP address when going online. Of course, there are pros and cons about hiding your IP address, but the pros mostly outweigh the cons for general usage.
One of the most popular and common solutions to hide your IP address is to use a VPN. Using a VPN is the best option to anonymize your online identity, and it has a lot of benefits regarding online security as well.
There are a number of free and paid VPN services for you to choose from. Do a research to find a trustworthy VPN provider that suits your needs. Otherwise, you can even set up your own VPN server using a virtual private server (VPS) which will be mentioned below.
If you would like to go to the next level of online anonymity, you can use Tor which is built for extreme anonymization. However, the Tor network's speed is very slow compared with a normal network as the data transmissions on the Tor network are very complex in order to prevent tracking down your online identity, and you don't need Tor for general purposes.
VPN is an acronym standing for Virtual Private Network. A VPN is a service connecting your device, such as PC, tablet, or smartphone, to another computer and allowing you to use that computer's network to browse the internet from your device.
You connect your device to a VPN server and use the internet from where the VPN server is located, such as another country. Therefore, your online activity is as if you're using the internet in that country.
VPNs can protect your online activity from spying and allow you to use the internet anonymously. Here are several pros of using a VPN.
Data encryption - VPNs encrypt the connection between you and your ISP. Your ISP doesn't know which websites you're browsing as well as your other online activity. What your ISP sees is the encrypted data transmitted back and forth between you and your VPN server.
Security enhancement - VPNs can help protect you from man-in-the-middle attacks (MITM) when connected to an untrusted network, such as a public WiFi. The public WiFi in this case is your ISP which is considerably insecure. However, as everything is encrypted when using a VPN, you're safe from snooping.
Bypass internet censorship - VPNs allow you to bypass internet censorship as well as geo-restrictions. When you're connected to a VPN, your internet traffic to the world outside is as if you're using the internet from another location. In other words, you can access region restricted sites or services and prohibited content blocked by your country using a VPN.
Anonymously torrenting - You can anonymously torrent over a VPN even on a network that blocks torrenting. Your downloads are safe from being monitored by your ISP. However, please note that if you use a VPN to download illegal files, your VPN provider can still see your internet traffic if logged.
VPNs have several disadvantages too, but they're pretty much negligible. The followings are the cons of using a VPN.
Slow speed - Using a VPN has a significant con regarding internet speed. Your entire internet traffic is encrypted and transmitted to a distant VPN server to ensure your anonymity and security. Therefore, it inevitably causes overhead in terms of hardware resources and internet speed compared with connecting to the ISP directly without using a VPN.
Terms of service violation - Using a VPN can violate terms of service. For example, connecting through a VPN to access region restricted sites to buy products or services that are not allowed in your country, such as video games, music, and movies.
Inaccurate personalization - Your online personalized content may not be accurate when using a VPN located in another country. For instance, when googling something, usually, the search results are based on your current location, but with a VPN, they can be completely different especially local content.
VPNs are legal to use in many countries throughout the world. However, some certain countries restrict or ban the use of VPNs, such as Belarus, China, Iran, Oman, Russia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
You can set up your own VPN server by either using an automated open source script available online or following an online tutorial to set it up manually. First of all, you'll need to have a VPS located in your preferred country. Here are our suggested cloud providers with low pricing starting from €2.49 a month (with referral links).
DigitalOcean - DigitalOcean is one of the most popular cloud providers best known for being developers friendly and high uptime. You'll receive a $50 credit to your account when signing up.
Linode - Linode is one of the pioneers in the cloud industry since 2003 and has been actively improved with new features all the time. You can redeem the coupon LINODE10 to get a $10 credit to your account.
Hetzner - Hetzner is a German-based hosting company with very affordable pricing. They have data centers located in Germany and Finland. The entry level plan for a Hetzner cloud server is €2.49 with 2GB RAM and 1 vCPU which is considerably unbeatable.
UpCloud - UpCloud is a Finnish-based cloud provider with server locations in United States, Europe, and Asia. They're a cloud provider that offers high-frequency CPUs by default. You'll get a $25 credit when signing up.
When you have a VPS ready, you can easily run an automated script to install OpenVPN on your VPS and follow the instruction on the screen to finish setting up your own VPN. There are two recommended automated open source scripts on GitHub with high reputations and used by many users for setting up an OpenVPN server. The installations are very simple and straightforward.
Nyr - By far the most popular script for setting up an OpenVPN server within several minutes. Supports Debian, Ubuntu, and CentOS as well as old hardware.
angristan - It was a fork of Nyr's script with enhanced security, but now it has been completely rewritten from scratch. Supports only recent Linux distributions including Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, and Arch Linux.
After finishing the setup, you'll get an OpenVPN config file for the client with the extension
.ovpn. You can use it to log in to your VPN server with an OpenVPN client of your choice.
A DNS leak is a security issue that reveals your DNS requests to your ISP DNS servers when using a VPN. DNS leaks are considered a serious online privacy threat. You can easily test if your VPN has a DNS leak on DNS leak test.
If you're using a newer version of OpenVPN (version 2.3.9 or newer), you can simply append the following line to your OpenVPN client config file and restart the service. This command blocks any other network interfaces on Windows from accessing VPN servers in order to prevent DNS leaks.
If you're using an older version of OpenVPN (older than version 2.3.9), you're encouraged to upgrade it to the latest version if possible because adding the single command above to a config file is much simpler than fixing DNS leaks manually as well as getting new features and bug fixes in a newer version.