Geo-spoofing is the process of hiding a true location by making a device appear to be in a different location than it really is. The user can change locations or countries to be in the location of their choosing. Geo-spoofing is used to access blocked content, apps, and streaming services, protect a user’s privacy, or to simply conceal a location to avoid detection.
Geo-spoofing is valuable to combat geo-blocking, which is the act of preventing access to content based on the user’s geographical location. This can happen because of copyright and licensing restrictions, and is also how streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have differing content from one region to the next. In addition, some countries have strict online censorship, meaning that things like online gambling or political blogs may be blocked. Geo-spoofing allows users to work around these issues when they, for example, travel abroad and still want to connect to their typical streaming service.
How geo-spoofing works
For geo-spoofing to work, a user has to change their IP address. To do this, the most popular method is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to fake a location. Similar to a proxy server, A VPN will make it look like traffic is coming from a different location with a new IP address. It will also keep a connection safe by encrypting traffic and directing it through a safe tunnel, meaning no one can spy on activities or steal information. If using a VPN during travel, this is especially valuable when connecting to an unsecured public wifi network.
How to change your location through a VPN
Change your location with a VPN through these steps:
- Choose a VPN service (our VPN definition lists several), and make sure it has servers to connect in the desired location. (Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services are getting better at detecting when a VPN is used.)
- Follow the VPN’s directions to download and install the provider on your device or browser.
- Select your location and wait for the VPN to connect to you.
Disadvantages of geo-spoofing
While a VPN aims to keep data secure, it’s possible to experience a domain name system (DNS) server leak. In some cases, geo-spoofing breaches international copyright laws. This could result in reputational damage or being banned from using certain software.