IP Spoofing

What is IP spoofing?

“IP spoofing” is the act of modifying or otherwise redirecting a computer’s Internet Protocol (IP) address.  An IP address is a sequence of numbers that identifies a unique computer on the Internet.  By changing this number, a person can make it seem like their Internet connection is coming from a different computer, even one in another country.

Why should I use IP spoofing?

Certain parts of IP addresses correspond to different countries, regions, and even cities around the world.  In this light, there are two major reasons why IP spoofing is useful:

  1. Modifying your IP address messes up its geographical locating properties.  This makes it difficult for Internet snoopers to know that what you do on the Internet is coming from a computer in your country.  In short, spoofing your IP address makes you more difficult to track on the Internet. 

  2. Certain websites use the geographical locating properties of IP addresses to deliver Internet content based on where the user is in the world.  This can lead to some content being harder to find, or outright blocked or censored.  Spoofing your IP address so that it appears to be from a country different from your own can sometimes allow you to view content from other areas.

When should I not use IP spoofing?

There are certain situations in which IP spoofing isn’t so useful.  For example:

  • To certain websites, spoofed IP addresses may appear suspicious or dangerous.  This is especially true if they appear to be coming from certain countries.  In order to access some websites while using a spoofed IP address, you may have to complete additional security checks.  Some websites may not even let you use them at all.

  • There are certain websites with international support that, as we mentioned, may show you different information based on what country your IP address appears to be from.  If you use a spoofed IP address, this can sometimes cause web pages to display information that’s not relevant to you, or even display in a foreign language that you don’t understand!  There are sometimes settings that allow you to fix this problem, but sometimes it’s easier just to avoid the problem by not using a spoofed IP address.

How to spoof an IP address

There are several easy IP spoofing tools out on the Internet today that can help you temporarily modify your IP address.  Though, please make sure to do your due diligence and research any tool that you want to use to make sure that it’s trustworthy (like we have with the services listed here).  Some may be fakes set up by troublemakers, and may actually make you easier to track on the Internet.  And we wouldn’t want that for you.

Proxy websites

Probably the simplest way to spoof an IP address, these are websites that allow you to funnel your web browsing through them, so they get tracked instead of you.  Examples include BlewPass, Ninja Cloak, and Proxy.org.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

These are a step up from proxy websites.  They install a program on your computer that allows you to run your Internet connection through a server of your choice from around the world.  This means that you don’t have to go to a specific website in order to spoof your IP address.  Popular choices include CyberGhost, Hotspot Shield, and TunnelBear.

Private web browsers

These are web browsers that have VPNs built into them, so you don’t have to go to a specific website or install any other program in order to spoof your IP address.  Plus, they have other neat privacy-friendly add-ons, such as the ability to trick websites into thinking that you’re using a more common browser.  This can make you harder to track on the Internet.  Some trusted ones include Epic Privacy Browser, The Onion Router (T.O.R.), and Comodo Dragon (if you prefer Chrome) or Ice Dragon (if you prefer Firefox).

To learn more about private web browsers and how they differ from the “private mode” settings in more common web browsers, see our Private Web Browsers article.

 

Anyway, that’s our primer for you on IP spoofing: what it is, how to do it, and why it’s useful.  Happy spoofing!


Private Web Browsers

What is a private web browser?

A private web browser is a web browser that has features built in that make you difficult to track on the Internet.  By default, many of them do not store (or at least keep) information on your computer that could be used to track your Internet activity.  These include cookies, cached web pages, or histories of search terms you’ve entered or websites you’ve visited.

Private web browsers go further than that, however.  They often have functions that redirect where your Internet connection is coming from (see our IP Spoofing article), which makes it difficult for observers to track or locate you based on your Internet address.  Some even have the ability to fool observers into thinking that you’re using a different web browser, which further confuses them and throws them off your Internet trail.

Private web browsers vs. private browsing mode

There is quite a big difference between using a private web browser, and simply using “private mode” in a more common web browser.  Let us explain.

What “private mode” does

When you enter private mode in a major web browser (such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Internet Explorer), you are basically telling the web browser that you don’t want it to keep a record of where you’re going on the Internet.  This means that any cached files, cookies, web page histories, or form entry histories will be wiped out when you finish browsing.

Unfortunately, private mode in common web browsers deletes information that could be used to track your Internet activities on your computer only.  This means that it only keeps your Internet activity private from other people who have access to the same computer as you.  This is only half the battle, and not the more important half, either.

What “private mode” doesn’t do

Private mode doesn’t protect you against being directly tracked while you’re actively browsing the Internet.  Websites, corporations, governments, and even some troublemakers can see where you’re going on the Internet by tracking your various activities and signatures. 

These actions and other “digital footprints” include what websites you visit or log into, what hyperlinks you click on, and what terms you input into search engines.  They can even track your computer’s Internet address and use it to figure out the general area in which you live!

How private web browsers fix this problem

Private web browsers work to prevent you from being tracked on the Internet side of things, and not just on your computer.  In addition to clearing your client-side breadcrumbs like “private mode” does, private web browsers also use fake Internet servers and other tricks to mask where your Internet connection is coming from while you’re on the Internet.

For example, one day your connection might be from France, and the next day your connection might be from Germany.  Or, one day websites may think you’re using Chrome, and the next they may think that you’re using Firefox.  Even if you’re tracked while using a private web browser, it doesn’t matter, because the private web browser constantly shifts the parameters that trackers would use to trace your Internet activity back to you as an individual person.  They might as well be trying to track a chameleon.

Best 4 private web browsers

If you prefer using Google Chrome, try these:

If you prefer using Mozilla Firefox, try these:

 

Anyway, that’s a brief explanation of what private web browsers are (with some examples), and what they do that “private mode” in more common web browsers doesn’t do!


Private Search Engines

What is a private search engine?

As we explained in our Tracking and Sale of Internet Usage Data article, many websites will track what you do and where you go on them.  They then use this information to create a sort of “profile” on who you are and what you like, and show you different content accordingly.  Some even sell your information to advertisers so that they can show you advertisements targeted towards your alleged interests.

While some people find this feature neat, many others find it creepy and privacy-invasive.  And search engines are some of the biggest users of this practice.  After all, if you’re trying to find something on the Internet, then you have to be at least somewhat interested in it, right?

However, there are some search engines run by people who know that there is a growing general concern about how often average citizens get tracked on the Internet, especially by major search engines such as Google Search, Yahoo Search, and Bing.  So, their search engines simply don’t do it.  They don’t collect data on what you search for, and they don’t show you different results based on what you’ve looked for before.

Why should I use a private search engine?

Sometimes, it can be useful to get search engine results that are skewed towards what you’re interested in.  But your personal preferences may not always be relevant in terms of what you’re looking for, especially if you’re searching for words or phrases that have multiple meanings.  And, of course, seeing online advertisements that are based on tracking where you’ve gone and what you’ve done on the Internet can be a little off-putting.

Private search engines often give you the same results every time you search for the same key words or phrases.  This can be advantageous, in that you’ll reliably know what you’ll find if you search for the same thing multiple times.  Others can allow you to view a website through a fake server, so if you visit a malicious website by mistake, their computer is the one that takes the hit, and yours is safe. 

Finally, the core thing that puts the “private” in “private search engines” is that they don’t collect information about what you search for and/or where your search request is coming from (i.e. your computer), so your Internet activity can’t be tracked while using one of these search engines.

Best 3 private search engines

DuckDuckGo

(www.duckduckgo.com)

DuckDuckGo is far and away the most popular private search engine.  It doesn’t keep a record of what you search for, which means that it doesn’t skew your results towards what it thinks you want to see.  Instead, it will give you the same search results every time you enter the same key words or phrases.  It also lets you instantly search for your terms on other major search engines and directory websites.

StartPage

(www.startpage.com)

StartPage acts as a middleman between you and Google Search, letting you submit search terms through StartPage without letting Google Search trace your search request directly back to you and your personal information.  StartPage never asks for or keeps a record of your computer’s Internet address, and never uses cookies to keep a record of what you search for. 

StartPage’s parent company, IxQuick, also has a search engine that looks for results from major search engines other than Google Search. It works pretty much the same way as StartPage.  You can check it out at www.ixquick.com.

Disconnect Search

(search.disconnect.me)

Disconnect Search is part of a whole suite of software that is dedicated to keeping people’s activities on the Internet private.  All of Disconnect’s products, including its search engine, follow four basic rules.  First, they never collect any information about you without you saying so, which includes things like your computer’s Internet address and (consequently) your location in the world.  Second, any personal information that you do give them is never sold to anyone else.  Third, said personal information is only shared with others in emergency situations, such as in order to comply with the law.  And finally, any personal information given to Disconnect will be deleted within a month of you asking them to do so.

 

If the advertisements you get when using the “big three” search engines (Google Search, Yahoo Search, and Bing) are starting to creep you out, try one of these private options.  You might find something fresh that gives you a new perspective, something that you wouldn’t have found had your search engine only been directing you towards what it thought you were interested in.  You might even see information and perspectives from other countries, if your search engine was skewing your search results towards those from the country you live in!