Although we like to think the internet is a place where you can be whoever you want, our IP addresses ensure that nothing is truly secret. If you commit a crime, your IP address could be used to find where you are and possibly who you are. Unfortunately, this power is often in the wrong hands, and many hackers and scam artists use them to gain information about victims or spoof them so that it looks like the victim is committing the crime.
It isn’t hard to see why this might be something people need to be careful about. So here are the top 5 ways to protect your identity online.
Try to Get A Dynamic IP Address
Although a static IP address that always stays the same can be easy to access: a dynamic one that changes can be far harder to hack. This is a setting you can change in most devices that allow your IP address to change and shift. It can still be used to track back to your general location and your service provider, but it’s harder for hackers to keep access to because it changes so often.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network ensures that your IP address won’t lead back to you in any way. This can protect you from scammers, give you the chance to keep your identity and location secret, and ensure that any IP lookup attempt fails. Unfortunately, there is some lag with many free VPN services, but if you pay for a subscription to one, these are usually better quality and will have less lag.
Ensure Your Privacy Settings are Correct
If you use public networks often, ensure that your privacy settings on your computer and phone are correct. Although you may assume they’re right, you can’t be sure if you don’t check. Likewise, if you’re the only person in your home, or you have no need for information sharing between devices, ensure that your privacy settings are correct on your home computer as well.
Change Your Passwords Often
Whatever password you use for a website should be unique from any other password you use. Ensure that every password has a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and at least one symbol. Avoid anything obvious like strings or numbers or letters that go together or any words that have significance to you. You can easily write any password down so that you don’t have to memorize it.
Use the Internet Defensively
When you’re online, the biggest safety risk you have is yourself. If you accidentally click the wrong link or let someone see your personal information, it could spell trouble. Avoid clicking any links from people you don’t know, keep your information private and close to the vest, and try to be safe. You can’t protect yourself from every scammer and hacker, but you can take steps to make yourself less of a target to these criminals.
Treat your IP address as your home address. Please keep it safe, don’t give it to anyone you don’t know, or public information that could lead people to it online. Be smart about your online behavior.