Take Control of your IP Address

On a computer network, much like in real life, there are different levels of access dependent on a variety of reasons. It may be due rights assigned to username or account, perhaps an access token or often simply your physical location. These rights are assigned in different ways but the most popular method across the internet is based on your IP address.

The IP address is that unique number which is assigned to every single device which is connected to the internet, from computers and laptops to phones and tablets and even your internet enabled fridge. Every single device that is accessible online has a unique IP address and can be tracked by this number. Although you IP address can ultimately be traced back to a specific location and owner, this information is not available to any website that it visits. However even without access to an ISP record the IP address can be used to determine two pieces of information very easily – classification and location.

The first classification refers to the type of connection the IP address is registered to specifically residential or commercial. This piece of information is not always used as there can be some overlaps with this classification. The physical location however is used extensively by the vast majority of major web sites. Some may use it to help serve relevant content, perhaps supplying specific language versions depending on your location or serving up adverts which are more applicable to you. This is usually helpful although it can be very annoying if you are genuinely trying to access different content.

The most common use though is to block access based on this location, a practice used by virtually every large media site on the web. If you are in the USA for example, you will not be able to watch any of the UK media sites such as the BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub. Similarly every single one of the big American media sites will block non-US addresses. These blocks and controls are growing exponentially every year for instance there are now thousands of YouTube videos only accessible to specific locations.

Fortunately for the enlightened it isn’t such a big problem, because using VPNs and proxies you can actually control your own IP address. A simple method of using a British VPN server can give you access to the BBC iPlayer in the USA like this. It merely hides your physical location and instead the web site sees only the address of the VPN and it works with the vast majority of web sites.

Finding a USA IP Address – USA Proxy

There’s no doubt that the internet is changing in many ways and not always for the best.  Twenty years ago the idea that you would need an IP address listed in a specific country would be ridiculous.

It really didn’t matter whether you had an US IP address like this or one from Asia, Africa or Europe.   The IP address was simply a technological necessity, a requirement of the network to communicate – but now it is also yet another way to classify individuals.

However it really does matter now, and your online experience can be completely different depending on where your IP address is registered.   Want to relax listening to tunes on the world’s greatest online jukebox – Pandora, well unless you have a US registered IP address forget it.

Fortunately there is a way around these petty restrictions – you can hide your real address behind a proxy or VPN server – here’s an example.

As you can see redirecting your connection through an intermediate server allows you to select the IP address that is displayed. So if you need to use a American IP address then you pick a served based in the US, a French IP address needs a server in France and so on.

It’s unfortunate but unless you want to get blocked and filtered everywhere you go, then it’s becoming something of a necessity.   These servers are called proxies or VPN servers and sit between you and the websites you visit, which means they cannot harvest your details or crucially detect your location.   Over the years though these servers have also been targeted and now many are less than effective – read this article about how people are using proxies and VPNs.

If you’re considering using these tools, these should be your primary concerns – security, speed and flexibility.  Fortunately now basic proxies are of little use in all these areas, which means many of the smaller proxy services have closed down.   You need to use something like a VPN or encrypted proxy service like Identity Cloaker which most sites can’t detect and also can keep your communications secure.    A well configured service should cover all the below situations:

  • Encrypt connection when needed (essential if you need to check  a secure site through an insecure access point).
  • Allow access to servers in a selection of countries
  • Responsive Support
  • Fast Connection

It’s all very well paying for a service to watch the BBC New Live online like this, but it needs to be fast to be usable.