Friday, August 17, 2012
Software solutions for privacy, specifically regarding hiding your IP address.
I am writing this tech-oriented article to address the issue of privacy, especially in blogs such as this one. Hiding your IP address is probably one of the most important steps an internet users can take to properly protect him or herself on the web.
As most of you know, one of my hobbies is network security. For that reason, I have been researching various ways to prevent an ISP or a target website from knowing which IP address one is coming from.
Recently, OpenDNS has come up with a product which encrypts your DNS address lookups over the web. This is an exciting innovation in website security, but quite frankly, it does not do the job of stopping a predatory website from snatching your IP address from the web and compiling it with a list of other IP addresses to be used in some kind of piracy lawsuit. I've seen them very frequently recently, and it's scary.
As a result, I have often suggested the use of VPN services to protect one's privacy when browsing. There are many types of VPN services, many free, the better ones are "paid" services. The problem with those services is that they tunnel ALL of your traffic through their servers. While this makes you anonymous, it still takes a serious toll on your speed. Plus, if you are paying to surf the web anonymously and you are viewing video streams or doing any kind of bandwidth intense activitities, forget about it. You'll blow through your account in no time (and it will cost you a lot of money).
Come a piece of software called "Hide IP Easy." (Website Link: http://www.easy-hideip.com) Hide IP Easy changes your IP address so that the websites (and services) that your computer is connecting to thinks that someone else is connecting to them. Now there are obviously legal issues with spoofing ("hiding") your IP address, but for those who want to attempt to protect their privacy, this might be an answer.
I've tested the software on Steve Gibson's GRC ShildsUP! website (http://www.grc.com), and it does work to mask the IP address. The problem is that your REAL IP ADDRESS STILL SHOWS UP (under the "X-FORWARDED-FOR" field). It continues to state how the address was changed (in my case, via something called 1.1 dg1t (squid/188.8.131.52). In my opinion this is a security weakness that needs to be addresses by the "Hide IP Easy" software developers, but for the time being, it seems to be a good solution.
I will continue to analyze the various ways of protecting one's privacy over the internet in coming posts.