Your IP (Internet Protocol) address is a collection of digits assigned to any device with which you access the web. Each IP address is unique and can be used to identify your device on the internet. Also, it represents your digital footprint and could be used to monitor, trace, and track you.
Also, depending on your geo-location, the information provided by your IP address could be used to restrict you from accessing certain servers and platforms.
For these purposes, and depending on what you do on the internet, you may need to hide your IP address as an e-commerce business.
What is an IP address?
An IP is defined as a unique set of numbers that can be used in identifying devices across a local network or on the internet. Typically, an IP address consists of four sets of numbers separated by periods, as in this example, 188.8.131.52.
Each set of the number represents your domain, subnetwork, network, and computer, and since a set can only range from between 0 to 255, a full IP address can look like anything from between 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
This implies that the numbers are unique but never random as they are carefully calculated and assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
Moreover, an IP address is not a permanent address, like many would think. It changes occasionally and frequently under certain circumstances. For instance, when you connect your device to a public Wi-Fi, when you travel overseas for a vacation or business meeting, or when your Internet Service Provider (ISP) decides it wants to assign you a new IP.
Regardless, your IP address, at any given time, is what allows you to access the web and, as such, is what can be used to return information to you.
Reasons for hiding IP address
The explanation above implies that the IP is a significant entity. It is an entity that requires hiding, sometimes, for several reasons, including security and privacy.
Below are some reasons for you to hide IP address:
- To Remove Geo-Location Restrictions
Geo-location restrictions are blockings placed on certain geographical locations. These locations are sometimes called forbidden locations, and once this is done, any device from that location will find it impossible to access whatever website has placed that blocking.
For instance, Netflix is one popular platform known for placing geo-blocking on its streaming services so that internet users from certain locations cannot access these services.
The impact of geo-location restrictions on any e-commerce brands can be regressive, including the inability to gather essential data from the restricted websites.
Hiding your IP address, primarily when you use a proper proxy, can help remove these restrictions, allowing you access the websites and servers that hold the information needed to grow your business.
2. For Brand Security and Privacy
Online activities can be easily tracked and monitored using the IP address. Anyone, including hackers, can reach any device by simply using that device’s IP address.
Apply this to a business, and you might begin to see the severity of the risks. If people can see what your brand has been up to online, then they can put one and two together and be able to deduce what exactly your business is up to in real life. Such a lack of privacy can cause your company valuable information.
If hackers can reach your device through your IP address, then the integrity and security of your business are in jeopardy.
To hide an IP address is, therefore, the safest thing any company can do to guarantee both privacy and security.
Main use cases when hiding an IP address can be beneficial
The following are instances where you must hide your IP address:
- When Doing Web Scraping
Web scraping, which is extracting important data from various sources, is how companies gather the useful information needed to make informed decisions.
Important business activities such as brand protection, price monitoring, and review monitoring are all born from the data collected during web scraping.
The sources of such data are known for placing blockings on their servers. Hiding your IP address through the use of proxies is the only way to perform successful web scraping.
- When Trying to Protect Your Brand from Government Surveillance
Different governments enact certain anti-business regulations with regular surveillance to catch defaulting businesses.
Some of these regulations and policies are there to prevent businesses from accessing certain information. The information is important because it could help businesses grow. In contrast, other regulations are there to spy on your online activities. The information gathered from such spying is then used to make more policies that are, more or less, disadvantageous to companies.
You will, therefore, need to hide your IP address to avoid these and protect your brand.
When it comes to accessing the internet, your IP address might be your greatest asset. Yet, it can pose the greatest risk to your brand’s security which is why it is advisable to hide IP addresses during several important online activities.