The major problem in the Internet privacy protection is to hide your IP address.
What is IP address, and why is it so important to hide IP?
IP address is your computer address in the Internet. IP address makes possible for your computer to communicate with other computers, and every computer connected to the Internet has its own, unique IP address. It is always possible to determine both communicating parties by a pair of IP addresses. IP addresses are assigned by Internet Service Providers (ISP) to its customers dynamically (you get a new IP every time you connect to the Internet) or statically (you have been assigned a permanent IP address). And where does Internet Service Provider get all these IP addresses? There are international organizations responsible for allocation of IP addresses to ISPs, such as RIPE (http://www.ripe.net , Europe), ARIN (http://www.arin.net North & South America) and APNIC (http://www.apnic.net Asia & Pacific). These organizations are allocating IP addresses to an ISP and keeping records of addresses allocated. Also, the ISP will need to report these organizations how IP addresses are used, e.g. for DSL connected users, to provide Dial-Up service, etc. All this data will appear in the records as well. These records are open to public. Using WHOIS tool (you may check our Tools section for WHOIS tool) anybody can access this data any time. WHOIS response on IP address query will contain Internet Service Provider company name, geographic location (for example “Some str., Los Angeles, CA, US” or “Deli, IN”) and IP address pool purpose (for example “DSL IP pool”). Additionally, ISPs can set descriptive reverse DNS entry for the IP address – domain name corresponding to the IP address, e.g. dsl-sezam-st-losangeles-CA.someisp.com.
IP address points to your ISP, and the ISP has logs on the customer’s activities. The local phone company providing you line to connect to the ISP has its own logs. Logs are stored for billing and resource management purposes, as any ISP/phone company will tell you.
In other words, this information is a good starting point for the curious to find out your home address, phone number and other personal details.
Who can find out your IP address?
Anybody you communicate with through the Internet. Anybody having your email address, ICQ number, chat nickname, etc. You leave trails with your IP address in web server logs, chat room logs, peer-to-peer file sharing systems, newsgroups, mail servers, mailing lists, making it possible to track you. Actually your trail will begin in your ISP logs with the record of IP address assigned to you at the moment you establish dial-up connection or turn on your PC on the cable connection. From that moment every your move will leave more and more trails in the Internet.
Is there a way to change or remove an IP address?
Bad news: IP address cannot be simply changed in your PC settings or removed completely. Your Internet connection will stop working if you change or remove your IP. Also, there are no software tools, which would allow you to do this. Good news is that using special anonymizing services you can hide your IP address from the outside world. The main idea of such an anonymizing service is that you pass the traffic, you wish to make anonymous, to them, and they will pass it to the destination using their own IP address. For example, you would like to access website www.somecompany.com anonymously, using one of the anonymizing services. Your browser or special software (supplied by an anonymizing service) will pass the request for the web page to the anonymizing server, and this server will send the request to www.somecompany.com . Web server will reply with page text to the anonymizing server, which will pass that page to your browser. The www.somecompany.com web server will not be able to get your IP address, only anonymizing server IP address will appear in the log files. That’s how anonymizing services work. The same technique can be used to anonymize other Internet activities, not only web browsing.
When you are using an anonymizing service your IP and identity will be hidden from the remote party, e.g. webmasters, IRC channel visitors, etc. Unfortunately IP anonymity will not solve all the problems. There is one more side of the Internet privacy you should be aware of; it is called “Data interception”