Tips for More Secure Learning Online

Internet Privacy

Online education has come a long way. In the past, everything was in PDF form and you’d have to print these materials.  These days, online education is a lot more advanced with entire platforms and applications dedicated to teachers and learners.

But as you welcome more technologies into your life, the risk to your privacy also increases. To securely use the net anytime you have online classes, hiding your IP address is one of the most tried-and-tested solutions.

Reasons to hide your IP address

When you learn online, you should not get distracted by connectivity and security issues. Hiding your IP address can be beneficial to your online education because it allows you to:

  • Hide your location. If you hide your physical location, you prevent many unnecessary intrusions from hackers trying to get your personal information. And why would they need your info? Probably to get into your bank account, or worse, steal your identity. 
  • Prevent identity theft and other online scams. Nip the problem in the bud before it begins. By hiding your location and keeping spying eyes from viewing your online activities, you are in control of the data you bring out into the world. Plus, you’ll get marketers who have been tracking your online activity in the hopes of selling you a product or service off your back. 
  • Improve security when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Public wi-fi and hotspots are unstable and not secured, but if you have no other connectivity choice, hiding your IP address could help shoo away potential hackers.  
  • Bypass network restrictions. If you’re vacationing in China and your online portal is located in the United States, you may be blocked from accessing any content due to geo-blocking. By hiding your location, you get to bypass such restrictions.

So how do you keep your IP address safe and hidden? 

Here are 5 ways to hide your IP address: 

  1. VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. When you have a VPN, it masks your IP address, so none of your online activities will be traceable. Instead, the VPN shows that you’re actually in another place. 

VPNs don’t just hide your IP address and location. It also keeps your browsing history, devices used, and personal information secured. 

There are numerous VPN options online, such as VPN Express, CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark. All of them work as advertised, but they offer varying server location, data limits, security protocols, and terms. 

  1. Proxy

Just like VPNs, proxies work as the middleman between your connection and the internet. 

Whenever you use your computer to connect to the internet and attend your classes or download materials for your courses, your computer uses an IP address. This address tells incoming data where to go and marks outdoing data with a “return address,” so it could bounce back into your computer after authentication. 

Because a proxy server acts like a computer with its own IP address online, it completely masks your own IP address. Your computer is aware of the proxy’s IP address, which is why when you send a request to a website to view it, the proxy intercepts your request and reroutes it using an IP address from that country. When the proxy server is allowed access, it sends the response to your browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge. 

You can find free and paid proxies, but using free proxies significantly slows down your internet and may not be able to encrypt your traffic as securely as VPNs do. 

  1. TOR

The TOR browser is a free software program that you use like a browser (similar to Firefox, Chrome, Edge, or Safari). Like other browsers, you download it onto your computer and install it. It acts like a proxy server (but on steroids), hiding your IP address every time you send or request data on the internet. 

Searching, shopping, surfing, and everything you do on the TOR browser will pass through several levels of encryption and servers around the world. The path of data requests is never repeated since Tor uses up to 5,000 Tor relays just to make your request to access a website, or download a file. 

Like using a VPN or proxy, websites won’t be able to track the physical location of your IP address while “browsing” on Tor. Because of this, even your online activities will be blocked from spying eyes. 

If you’re going to use this for logging into educational sites, Tor is enough to keep you protected online. However, if you’re going to be streaming a lot of educational videos, and downloading big files regularly, Tor might not be the right solution for you since all the encryption and decryption involved in keeping your IP address hidden causes a significant decrease in speed. 

  1. NAT Firewall

NAT (Network Address Translation) allows many devices on a private network to share a single gateway to the internet. All these devices will share the same public IP address (taken from the gateway usually found on wifi routers). 

For example, if your household connects 6 gadgets to a single wifi router, your 2 computers, 3 smartphones, and 1 tablet would all have different private IP addresses, but would share your router’s public IP address. 

NAT firewall doesn’t hide your public IP address, but it automatically hides your device’s private IP address. This means it will be able to block any incoming online communication that you didn’t request. 

  1. Request ISP to change IP Address. 

This is often the solution if a particular website is telling you that your IP address is blocked or banned. When this happens and you really need to access that website for your online courses, call your internet service provider and request them to change your IP address. 

Do you need a different IP address temporarily?  If you just need to access something from your learning portal quickly, go to your nearest coffee shop or other public places that offer free Wi-Fi and connect from there. You’ll be able to use that location’s IP address and keep your home IP address hidden. 

Will Fastiggi
Originally from England, Will is an Upper Primary Coordinator now living in Brazil. He is passionate about making the most of technology to enrich the education of students.
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