Tips to Avoid IP-Address Tracking

The state-of-the-art way of avoiding IP tracking is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) like IP Vanish. The way it works is that you log into the VPN just like you would log into your ISP. After that point, all of your traffic goes to the VPN company which then sends it out to the internet. If somebody sniffs your packets, they will just see one encrypted stream going to-and-from the VPN company.

For example, if you were logged into a VPN right now, we would have no idea who you were. Our server logs would show an IP address that belongs to your VPN company, and that would be all we would know. We could identify the VPN company, and guess at what country you are in based on their home address, but that’s about it. And even that doesn’t always work because with a VPN like IP Vanish you can select which server to log into, and they have servers all over the world! You could live in Iceland, log into their Panama server, and the internet would have no clue as to your location.

Of course, nothing is perfect. The VPN company knows who you are, and if they get a subpena, they might have to hand over your name. However, VPNs work well enough and have grown in popularity in response to the “Six Strikes” campaign by U.S. ISPs.

If you cannot use a VPN, there are some low-tech things you can do:

Make Sure That Your IP Address Changes Frequently.

  1. If you have a static IP address at work, one that never changes, you might want to do the majority of your surfing from a different computer.
  2. Use this site to see your IP Address.
  3. Most people have “leased” IP addresses with their cable-modem or DSL accounts. That means your IP won’t change until you turn off your modem. So, power it down as often as you feel necessary.
  4. America Online’s dial-up accounts go through a thing called a proxy server. What this means is that when you are logged into AOL, you do not make direct contact with the websites you visit. You only talk to the proxy server, which in turn contacts the website. The IP address logged into the website’s server logs are not yours, but that of the proxy server. And since AOL has many proxy servers, chances are that more than one IP address will be logged during a session since the proxy servers are load-balanced, which means that they take turns. The bottom line is that using an AOL account makes you harder to track. Some other ISP’s use proxy servers also, so you can ask about that when choosing an ISP.

Change Your “User Agent”

Most web servers log the browser you are using, and if you have a unique “User Agent” string, it can be used to track you. Here is an example produced by the Opera browser:

Opera/9.50 (X11; FreeBSD 7.0-PRERELEASE i386; U; en)

Anybody using that user-agent sticks out like a sore thumb.

Use this site to see your user-agent. To learn how to change the user agent in your browser, Google-up something like this: “change user agent Firefox”.

Keep in mind that many websites use your user-agent to determine what content to send to you. If your user-agent indicates that you are on a mobile device, you might see a completely different page than when you are on your notebook. So be careful when changing it.

Your user-agent will also change automatically whenever you update your web browser, and maybe when you upgrade your operating system. So, you might want to check it after doing those things.

Don’t Allow Cookies

Most people know that cookies can be used for tracking. You can go into your browser’s security settings and turn them off completely, or have them flushed when you close down the browser.

Never Click Links

To prevent a website from logging where you linked from, never click on a link or advert. Instead, hover your mouse over the link to see what it is, and then type it into your browser’s address bar. Or just Google the domain name of the site, or product name advertised.

This data is called the “referrer”. So, if you found this page with a Google search, we could look in our server log and see exactly what you typed in. Chances are it would be something like “avoid IP tracking”. When you click a link, your browser includes the URL of the page containing the link. To prevent this data from being sent, look in your browser’s docs and see if you can find an option to not send the referrer data.

In 2011, Google began to block the referrer for logged-in users. So, if you were logged into Gmail or AdWords, or another Google website, when you searched for this site, we could not tell what you searched on. But of course, Google still knows.

Note: “Referrer” is sometimes miss-spelled “referer”, probably because it was spelled that way in the original Apache server software. Just something to keep in mind when searching.

Tor

Tor is free, open-source software produced by a non-profit organization, and a volunteer international network of servers. Tor encrypts your traffic and sends it through this network masking your real IP address. Download Tor here. Tor has been used by dissidents in dictatorships like Iran and Egypt, however make sure to read the Wikipedia article for a discussion of its potential vulnerabilities. Tor volunteers use their own bandwidth to run their servers, so as you can imagine, they are not friendly to the network being used for file-sharing applications like BitTorrent.

37 Responses to “Tips to Avoid IP-Address Tracking”

  1. Runar says:

    Hi!
    Do I get tracked if I creating BitTorrent ports for my router? please answer quickly! :-)

  2. JoeShmoe says:

    What’s your take on hotspot shield? Does it keep you anonymous in the torrent and usenet realms?

  3. bon says:

    can i track who is the owner of ip add if i only know is who is the internet provider like pldt? the connection is static, everytime i check the ip add never change. is it possible to know who is the owner and place? Thanks

  4. MJ says:

    Are you aware of any VPN providers that have been forced to hand over IP details of users through any level of order? I read about Hidemyass doing it but that was for a hacker into Sony – not just the odd torrent!

    BTGUARD and PrivateInternetAccess state they do not keep logs – I’d be interested to know if anyone has ever seen different?

    Thanks
    MJ

  5. Sam says:

    What if the client computers sent requests to a single proxy server ….which forwards your requests as in wi-fi…the proxy server would have the logs wouldn’t it?Or can VPN providers and other proxy sites conceal that?

  6. Smaug says:

    What if I post this comment and later for whatever reason disconnect from the VPN? Which IP address will you see?

    Doesn’t it makes it useless if you are through a tunnel but at the same time logged into your original *some social network or whatever platform* account with real data etc. That is, can one track the simultaneity of your actions in the Internet, thus making your anonymity on some sites/services useless because they can track your traffic on other, where you actually use real data? Thanx!

    • admin says:

      I would see the IP of the VPN. So, if I wanted to hunt you down, I could only get as far as the VPN company. It would then be up to them to protect your identity.

      If you are on a VPN, and then log into Facebook, FB will indeed know who you are. So, if you want to be anonymous you can’t log into any site to which you have given your real credentials.

  7. Gil says:

    Hi. Is it possible that two accounts on a computer can have different ISPs?

    Also if I chose to use a VPN, does that mean I will have the same ISPs as the other people who are using them?

    • admin says:

      I don’t know if it is possible to have two different IP addresses on one computer. If it is possible, then you would likely need two network cards, two modems, and two phone lines to make two separate internet connections. Your computer can connect to multiple networks, but I’m not sure what happens with the IPs.

      With a VPN, yes, you share an IP with the other people on the VPN. Of course, the VPN may have multiple servers, so you might share an IP with 1000 people when the VPN has 5000 total users.

  8. Chris Taylor says:

    Small Question. Do you get tracked when downloading under a proxy?

    • admin says:

      Well, the proxy server has to know your IP address so that it can send data to you. It doesn’t have to log that info though. You would have to ask the operator of the proxy.

  9. bernie says:

    Hi guys,

    Is there a way to show all previous IP addresses on your home network (wi-fi) besides the active ones? I am looking to find all IP addresses that were ever logged on my router.

    Also is there a way to determine if an IP address has changed recently?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated lads.

  10. Greg says:

    Hello would a VPN help block eBay from tracking your IP?

  11. ralf says:

    can i track a tracker? can i see who is looking at my activity?

  12. zulu says:

    You not only need a vpn, you also need to plug any dns leaks and get a internet kill switch or firewall to block connections if your vpn fails. And you need to make sure you’re not using any online account that you previously accessed with your real ip for anything that’ll attract the LEA’s attention. On mobile devices, you also need to turn off the GPS. Combining tor and vpn is a slow but the most secure option.

  13. scott says:

    Where can I get the IP’s of people that visit a web site?

    • admin says:

      The IPs are recorded in the server-log file of the website. So, if it’s not your website, then you would have to ask the admin of the site in question. Of course, he will very likely say no since doing such a thing would probably violate dozens of privacy laws.

  14. William Little says:

    Hi.
    A reverse question.
    Is was browsing for answers to “does anything in windows log the server IP address” and came across this site. It seems to be quite informative so maybe I will get lucky.
    I am hoping to be able to find out if I logged onto a certain wi-fi on a certain date and during certain hours. I can see, in eventvwr, that I logged onto the computer (laptop) at the relevant times but as a laptop is mobile it doesn’t determine my location. I have emailed the wi-fi provider but given my expectations of them I suspect that that will be as productive as trying to catch Hobbits.
    In my browser’s history I can see the web pages visited during those times but not the login page for the wi-fi. Sometimes I seem able to skip that login page and go straight to my home page, at other times not, this would have been an occasion when “not” was good.
    Anyway.Thanks for any help and merry Xmas

  15. vusi says:

    Hi

    can anyone track my location and ip address on a wifi connection.

    kind regards

  16. Cookie says:

    Hi, would you be able to track someone’s loction IP address from a cookie ID being stored on the computer?

  17. Bongz says:

    Hi
    Is it possible for the hotspot admin to locate where you are whilst you are logged in on a hotspot network?

  18. Azeem says:

    how can i make sure that any body would not be able to see my IP address by tracking system?

  19. Mudassir says:

    Hello i want an proxy when i use proxies like urtra surf hotspot shield ETC

    but other website traced my proxy i need a proxy server that other website not know i am using proxy

    or any other way to change ip address without using any proxy ?

  20. Argonautis says:

    Hi! Is it possible to determine whether someone is using another computer? ISP remains the same. i have dynamic ip , and i don’t use any proxy/vpn services. Please don ‘t tell me about 192.168.1.2 . Not the ip of computer from/to router. I speak for the laptop/pc itself.

    Thanks.

  21. harry wally says:

    Can ebay with there sofistcated computers still find who yoy are and location?

  22. Sam says:

    Are you familiar with anonymonkey? If i submit a post through that site, is it possible for the admins of the certain facebook page track my ip address?

  23. lakshmi says:

    Is it possible to track an ip address of the system which has logged into remote desktop connection.Please reply.Its urgent

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