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I need to use Irc (xchat) to communicate in real time, but I dont like the fact my IP address is easily visible to anyone.
I've read about bouncers, would this be the best solution? Do web hosting services usually offer IRC bouncers on request? as I am also looking for web hosting. I dont mind paying for a bouncer from a reputable company.
Web hosting services usually frown upon bouncers. In fact, they usually have strict guidelines against anything IRC-related.
There are services that may fit your needs...mibbit, for instance. There's also TOR (for privacy concerns, not security concerns).
Proxies and anonymizers do help, as long as you're not going to do anything that warrants hiding in the first place. There's nothing wrong with wanting to keep yourself private, but understand that not all proxies are bad.
yes your right I have seen some proxies which suggest they are there to protect an indivduals right to freedom on the net, Im probably just over cautious. I had a bad experience of IRC a few years ago, and because Im not very familiar with either IRC or proxies, I probably transfered that fear over to proxies.
TMK, with most proxies you just have to trust them. Whether they are deserving of that trust is another question. (I.e. the proxy will see your IP address as well as the data transfered and they have the power to do what they want with that info.) You might want to look into Tor and see if that would be useful to you. (I have used Tor for web browsing but not for IRC. But I think it can be done.) Tor is not a panacea so you need to take the time to understand it a little and to read their advice/warnings about the system. But it is set up to make it difficult for anybody to know both your IP address and your destination address. The Tor site contains explanations from a very simple overview to descriptions that are probably more detailed than you care to go.
I just started using Miau IRC bouncer on my linode... my understanding is that it's used to allow you to maintain a persistent connection while you're not actually connected or across reboots and to hide your 'home' ip address in case someone wants to DOS you.
Miau (or other bouncer) runs on another "un-DOSable" or otherwise invulnerable host on the internet (perhaps it simply has more bandwidth to withstand a flood attack?). You tell it what servers and channels to connect to in the conf file. Then you connect to Miau with your IRC client and the conversations are routed through Miau/bouncer.
Other IRC users only see the ip address of the bouncer. So if someone decides to flood attack you, they can only effect your bouncer host, and not your home connection.
I've not had much luck with running IRC through TOR as it seems many of the servers block TOR exit nodes.