How to Hide My IP Address - Surf by Proxy

If you want to protect your Identity and Privacy online then learning how to hide your IP address and surf by proxy is a very smart move. Unfortunately the privacy and secure browsing industry is full of extremely insecure, overpriced software. There's even the added irony that much of the 'secure' software is actually worse than using nothing at all!

How to Hide My IP Address

Ok this is not terribly hard, your IP address is the one thing online that connects you to your computer. Your internet service provider can supply exact details of who is using a particular IP address at any time. This means that anyone using the internet can be tracked or traced from any website they visit from their IP address.

If you start researching how to hide my ip address the first area you'll probably come across is anonymous proxies. These are servers which sit in between you connection and the web site you visit, if you use a properly configured proxy server and surf by proxy then all the web site will see is the IP address of the Proxy server.
It's not hard to configure your connection to use a proxy - see my earlier post -
Configure to Surf by Proxy, however the huge security problem is the choice of proxies that people use.

You Mean the Free Anonymous Proxies?

This is entirely the problem - simply the word free! When you use a proxy server you are trusting your entire web browsing and all your data to the trust of the owner of the anonymous proxy. All your data is channelled through the proxy server, the vast majority in clear text using HTTP.

Running an anonymous proxy costs money, there are expensive bandwidth costs, hardware, support and maintenance. Have you ever wondered why there are so many free anonymous proxies available on the internet. Well the reason is that majority are hacked or mis-configured servers, the owners generally don't know they are being used as proxies until the get the bills.

So is it safe to Surf by Proxy through these machines ?

In a word no, absolutely not. Let me perhaps demonstrate, last week I was doing some security testing and I set up a server in my home office, I installed Squid and configured the server to act as a proxy server. A few selective posts to the many free anonymous proxies lists across the internet and very soon I had many people surfing through my office server.

All the data on that server is logged and when I shut it down I had huge logs of peoples web browsing - including their IP addresses, all the web sites they visited, passwords, account names, email addresses. Anything not under HTTPS was in clear text and as I had control of their connections even this is not safe (I should point out that these logs were deleted!)

All these people thought they were 'ninja surfers', browsing and surfing in complete anonymity - whereas they were completely the opposite - the most insecure surfing technique on the planet.

There's nothing wrong with using anonymous proxies to surf, they have a place to pay in freedom of speech, anonymous surfing and browsing securely. But if you use a free proxy on a hacked server you are asking for big trouble, it must be secure and it should be private. Beware the commercial software which just has a pretty program that scans for these servers and then sends all your data down through an unknown source.

It's not secure, it's not anonymous and frankly it's just a joke, surf by proxy sure but don't surf via one that is run by identity thieves, that's just madness.


will6o6 said...

A really good explanation of how a proxy works, next time Im going to think before using it. Thanks

Welshgadgets said...

Thanks Will, a proxy can be many things - but the number one rule is if you don't know it's secure then never use it for anything you would like to remain private!

It will usually obscure your IP address but you'll leave it on the proxy instead.