An IP address is a unique string of digits that represents your specific device, and it can be used to track your online activities. If you are concerned about privacy or if you want to improve your security, then hiding your IP address is an important step in improving your overall digital protection.
It is particularly important to hide your IP address from your phone, as it holds a huge amount of information about yourself and your location as well as your online activities. Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system in the world, so knowing how to hide your IP address on this OS is an immensely valuable skill. Read on for an in-depth tutorial on how to hide your IP address on Android.
How Android Users Are Assigned An IP Address
Whenever your phone connects to an online network, it is automatically assigned an IP address. This is a string of numerical characters which is used to uniquely identify your device’s connection to the internet, as well as to alert websites of where you are physically located in the world. With this information, ISPs and websites (along with other third parties) can effectively track your activity online, as well as your geographical movements. Scary stuff, right? Luckily, a large degree of anonymity can be retained by simply masking your real IP address with that of a VPN’s proxy server.
Why Android Users May Want To Hide Their IP Address
There are many reasons that Android users might want to hide their IP address, such as the following:
Protect Your Privacy
When you leave your actual IP address exposed, any site that you visit can record your IP address and keep records of your activity on that site. This means that there exists a record of all of the sites that you visit and all of your online activities, which are linked by your IP. Your ISP or the government can easily use your IP address to keep tabs on you, even when you try to use a site anonymously. Hiding your IP address makes it much harder for your online activities to be tracked.
Download in Safety
If you are going to participate in file sharing, then you absolutely need to take steps to protect yourself. This is especially important if you use torrent files, as when you download using these files, you expose your IP address while others download from you. This means that it is very easy for your downloading activities to be tracked. By hiding your IP address, you throw down a virtual smoke bomb that makes it impossible for third-parties to see what you’re downloading, or even that you’re downloading anything in the first place.
Improve Your Security
When your IP address is public, it can be used to target you for cyber attacks. For example, a DDoS attack occurs when a person wants to knock your device off the internet. This type of attack, called a distributed denial of service attack, works by co-ordinating various machines from around the world to send huge packets of data to the same IP address – in this case, your IP address – to overwhelm the server you are connected to and thus knock you offline. You can protect yourself against DDoS attacks, as well as other cyber attacks such as phishing and vishing, by hiding your IP address so that malicious actors cannot target you.
Bypass Regional Restrictions and Censorship
One way that IP addresses are used by websites is to restrict the access to content based on the location of the user. For example, sites like the BBC iPlayer can only be used to watch video within the UK. When you try to visit the iPlayer website, the site reads your IP address and works out your location. If your location is within the UK, you are allowed to watch the videos, but if your location is elsewhere then the videos will not play. This means that if you want to want region locked content like the BBC from outside the UK on your Android device, then you will need to hide your IP address.
How To Hide Your IP Address On Android
The best way to hide your IP address on Android is to use a virtual private network. A VPN works by installing an app on your Android device, and this app then encrypts all of the data that your device sends over the internet before it leaves your device. This encrypted data passes through your internet connection as usual, though no one else can access the data or read it. The data is then sent to a server located elsewhere in the location of your choosing, and at the server it is decrypted and sent on to its original destination. When the data leaves this server, it is assigned a new IP address which corresponds to the location of the server rather than your actual location.
This process means that your real IP address is masked behind the new address assigned to you by the server. If you are based in one location – such as Germany, for example – you can connect to a server in another location – such as the UK – and your German IP address will be hidden behind a UK IP address. Then, when you visit a website, you will appear to be browsing from the UK and you can access UK content like the BBC iPlayer. This also means that your real IP address will be kept safe and private.
Using A VPN App On Android
The particular app that you will use to connect to your VPN server on Android depends on the VPN provider that you choose. However, the general principals of these apps are all the same. When you open a VPN app for Android, you will not yet be connected to the VPN. First you need to find the list of servers that are available in the VPN app. Often this will be on a separate tab in the form of an alphabetical list, or there may be a map showing locations of available servers.
Decide which server that you want to connect to, based on the following factors:
- Firstly, consider the country of the server. If you want to access region locked content, then you need to select a server in the region where you want to access the content from. Alternatively, if you do not need to access region locked content, then you should choose a server that is nearby to your actual location for the best possible speeds.
- Secondly, look at the ping and load of the servers. The ping is an indicator of how fast the server is responding to messages sent to it, so you want a server with a low ping so that it will respond quickly and you can get a fast connection. The load indicates how many users are currently using the server, so you want a server with a low load so that you are not sharing limited resources with too many other people.
Once you have selected the server that will best meet your needs, click on the name of the server and you should see a message indicating that you are being connected to that server (it should only take a few seconds for the connection to be made). Once the connection is made, you will see an indicator on the app that the VPN is running, usually in the form of a green light or icon. You will also see a key symbol in your Android status bar to show that you are connected to a VPN.
Now your IP address is hidden, and most VPN apps will show you your new IP address if you navigate to the home screen. This means you can now browse the internet sagely and privately from your Android device.
Recommended VPNs For Android
There is a massive selection of VPNs available for various devices, so to help you choose which VPN provider is right for you we have compiled a list of our top VPNs for Android, based on the following criteria:
- Software support for Android and other operating systems, so that you can install your VPN and use it to protect your Windows, Mac, and iOS devices as well as your Android device.
- Excellent security to keep your data safe and private, such as the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy so that your online activities will never be recorded.
- Fast connections so that using your VPN doesn’t slow down your browsing or downloading too much.
- Many servers available so that you can easily find a server in the location that you need, and that doesn’t have a high load on it.
Considering these factors, here are the VPNs that we recommend for Android:
1. ExpressVPN – Best Mobile VPN
ExpressVPN is a top-recommended VPN not only for Android, but across most major platforms. This is largely due to its foolproof user interface, which places simplicity front and center while backing it up with considerable security provisions. All you’ll see on your android device when you fire the app up is a simple green “on” button, which automatically connects you to the nearest server. Of course, you can take a look under the hood and manually select one of their 2000+ servers located in 94 countries to dial in your VPN experience.
Underlying this streamlined user experience is unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption, and a no-nonsense logging policy which guarantees never to track your traffic online. Extra features include a built-in speed test and the option to launch the app upon starting your Android, ensuring that you’re never without VPN protection. Your subscription extends protection to your other devices as well, including Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Linux, and more.
Read our full ExpressVPN review here.
2. NordVPN – Advanced Options Galore
NordVPN is an exceptional provider among the greater VPN market largely due to its massive offering of servers. To date, their network numbers 4827 nodes across 62 countries, which on its own is an almost ludicrously large amount. However, where NordVPN truly shines is with its array of specialty servers which are optimised for a variety of tasks, such as P2P, anti-DDoS, onion over VPN, double VPN encryption and more. Whatever you may want to do online, NordVPN will help you do it in the utmost security without compromising on performance.
Speaking of which, NordVPN offers some of the fastest connection speeds on the market. This is especially useful for those Android devices with gorgeous full-HD displays that are so often used as mobile streaming centres. And yes, NordVPN does work with Netflix and Hulu! You just have to spoof your IP address in the country where you want access, kick back, and enjoy your streams. If you have trouble connecting, NordVPN has graciously provided troubleshooting guides on their website and is directly available via their customer service.
The Android app makes it easy to select your preferred server with an attractive map interface. Backing this exceptional utility is industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption, and one of the most comprehensive no-logging policies you’ll find anywhere. The icing on the cake? NordVPN offers dedicated IP addresses, so you can hide your location without getting caught in the same dragnet as the shared IPs offered by most VPNs. Your subscription will cover your other devices as well, including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS and even Windows Phone.
Read our full NordVPN review here.
3. CyberGhost – Easy To Use
CyberGhost focuses on ease of use, making it ideal for new users who do not have a lot of experience with VPNs. Towards this end, the Android app has a simple graphical interface which makes it dead simple to use. However, this simplicity doesn’t come at a cost to security, as CyberGhost boasts the incredible 256-bit AES encryption along with a strict no logging policy. What’s more, there are over 2200 servers available in 60 countries to choose from, giving you a truly unlimited internet.
Perhaps most importantly to Android users seeking to hide their IP addresses is the option for a dedicated IP address. This is especially useful since many VPN blocking efforts such as those deployed by Netflix target the shared IP addresses which most VPNs offer. Having your own unique, masked IP address opens up a world of possibility. Regardless of where or how you choose to connect, CyberGhost promises fast and reliable connections across its entire network.
CyberGhost’s incredible protection is available across multiple platforms in addition to your Android device, including iOS, Windows, and Mac OS.
Read our full CyberGhost review here.
Android users may want to hide their IP address for a variety of reasons, such as improving digital security and protecting from DDoS and other attacks, getting around regional restrictions to access the internet more freely, to download files more safely, and to protect their privacy. All of this can be achieved through the use of a VPN which allows you to mask your real address behind an IP address assigned by the VPN server. We have recommended a number of VPNs which provide dedicated software for Android devices.
Have you tried any of these VPNs for Android? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.