Fear mongers on FaceBook
I keep seeing ads floating around the Internet claiming they will keep your information private on the Internet. But how much of their claim is real?
One such program "hide my ip address" says that "The Internet is NOT Anonymous" and "Discover Why Your PC is Broadcasting ALL Your Personal Details And How You Can Hide Your IP Address!" Let's look at their claims here.
Some of what "Hide My IP Address" says is true, the Internet is not anonymous. However, the idea that your PC is broadcasting all your personal details could possibly be somewhat true, but it would take much more that just hiding your IP address (Internet Protocol address) to keep it from happening.
The IP address is one way of getting to your machine on the Internet. However, it only gets you part-way there. While you do have an IP address that is identifying like your street address, in most computers today that can not be seen on the Internet. The IP address others see is more like your zip code than your street address. It only give your general proximity, and doesn't identify you. For example; today the program Hide My IP Address says my IP address is "220.127.116.11 " which identifies me as being a TWC router in a city that is over 60 miles away from me. Then there is the fact that your traffic doesn't always go the same way as it did before. I usually use a router that is about 30 miles from me.
To get on the Internet, you use an ISP (Internet service provider) and the network of routers they have. A router being a device to route your traffic to the right place.
What happens is after your ISP's router takes the traffic it uses a number that is unique to your ISP and probably changes every day or so. Any traffic beyond your ISPs router will have a hidden IP address already. Then if you have small network in your house and use a router with NAT (Network Address Translation) capabilities to connect to your ISP then your computers address is disguised once again.
This is different if you are using the Internet from a network that runs a service on the Internet. That network probably has what is known as a "static IP" because it never changes. However, this is not the normal so I won't go into this in detail. Most people will only run into this at work, which is why doing any serious browsing at work isn't encouraged.
The security scan at the Gibson Research Center (GRC.COM) identifies me as
cpe-75-85-123-208.socal.res.rr.com which is only the name of that router I spoke of. All you can get from it is that it is part of the residential network on Road Runner in Southern California. With a little digging you can find out where that router is, but you'll be 65 miles way from me.
Now there are ways to track you known as cookies. That is another topic, but depending on how much information you've given a web-site, that web-site will know your information the next time you go there. And under normal circumstances, only that web-site will be able to get to that information. It is not broadcast to the rest of the world. Unfortunately there are ways around it, but like I said, that is another topic.
Sometimes these programs try to scare you by using a program that runs on your computer (usually a JAVA applet) to get their hands on information inside your computer. Again, that is another topic, but it is a hole that can easily be plugged.
So bottom-line, this program and a lot of programs like it are selling what is technically known as FUD ("Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt" or products that try to scare you into buying with false or exaggerated claims). The IP address isn't the threat they claim, the IP address is already hidden in most cases, and there are even worse techniques to mess with your privacy. Don't buy into these programs, even if you see them advertised on legitimate sites like FaceBook.