Being an information security enthusiast/professional I am often asked how one can go about hiding their IP address while on the Internet. Here’s the analogy I give them:
What would happen if you were to give a fake address when making a pizza delivery order? Simple — you wouldn’t get a pizza. While you could pretty easily fool the pizza place, you ultimately wouldn’t accomplish much. The very thing that you wanted (the pizza) would get sent to some other guy’s house, and you’d go hungry.
It’s the same with the Internet. You need a valid IP address in order to receive web pages and email — just like you need a valid house address in order to receive a pizza delivery or a package from the post office. If you didn’t have an address people simply wouldn’t know how to bring you the things you wanted.
One popular way of obscuring your IP address is by using a proxy. But proxies don’t break the rules; they just add a bit of complexity. Using our pizza delivery analogy, a proxy is like calling your buddy at his house and having him order your pizza. Then, when the pizza gets there, he brings it to YOU.
But guess what? You still need an address. If your buddy didn’t know where you lived he couldn’t bring you your pizza. So you hid from the pizza place, but not from everyone.
The key here is that the pizza shop didn’t hear your voice (what browser you’re using), your accent (your operating system), or get your mailing address (your IP). They got your friend’s information instead, and that’s what people like about proxies.
Just remember that proxies aren’t magical; they simply add extra hops in the middle. Each person still has an address (you, your buddy, and the pizza place). So don’t think of it as “hiding” or “becoming invisible”; this isn’t how the Internet works.
The Internet needs to know your IP addressees or else you can’t use it. If you were truly hidden, nobody would be able to bring you the stuff you asked for — whether that something was a pizza or an email from a friend.:
[ Jan 2007 ]