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What does an IP address tell you and how it can put you at risk
April 23, 2021
Cars have VINs. Humans have Social Security numbers. And our internet-connected devices have unique identifiers, too — Internet Protocol addresses, commonly known as IP addresses.
Similar to those other identifiers in our lives, an IP address does reveal a little bit about you, namely your geolocation.
Here, we’ll dig further into the meaning, purpose, and inner workings of an IP address to explain just what does an IP address tell you — and others.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a string of numbers assigned to an internet-connected device, much like an address on a house. Your computer network uses the IP address to communicate with other computers, websites, and all parts of cyberspace.
Essentially, IP addresses are how computers on the internet recognize one another. Your internet service provider (ISP) assigns IP addresses to your internet-connected devices, and every IP address is unique. Considering every single internet-connected device has an IP address, billions of IP addresses exist.
You can think of an IP address like a membership card to enter the World Wide Web. Every device that can connect to the internet is a member of the World Wide Web — computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, routers, etc. — and all have an IP address. Websites and computer networks require that form of identification for you to interact with them.
Understanding an IP address and how it works aside, it’s also important to understand the purpose of IP addresses in the first place.
What is the purpose of an IP address?
An IP address can be considered a digital address for your internet-connected devices, as it reveals your geolocation to help the internet deliver content that’s relevant to you.
For example, it’s due in part to your IP address that you see local restaurants pop up when you search “sushi restaurants. ”
How to find your IP address
To find your IP address, simply Google “what is my IP address. ” It’s as simple as that: The internet provides your IP address back to you. The internet knows your IP address because it’s assigned to your device and it is required to browse the internet.
Worth mentioning is that your IP address changes every time you connect to a different Wi-Fi network or router. Online users won’t even know the difference and, generally, they don’t need to — much like how they don’t necessarily need to know how to read an IP address.
Rather, online users should be aware of what information their IP address reveals.
What information does my IP address reveal?
IP addresses do reveal your geolocation, but not your precise location like a home address and never your name, phone number, or other precise personal information. Instead, IP addresses might reveal your city, ZIP code, or area code of where you are connecting to the internet at that moment — this is why IP addresses change every time you connect from a new location or using a new router.
And it’s generally your router’s IP address that is revealed, not the IP address of your internet-connected devices such as a computer, tablet, or mobile phone that communicate with a router to connect to the internet. Sure, these internet-connected devices share their IP address with your router, but your router uses its own IP address to grant your device access to the World Wide Web.
It’s for this reason that your IP address almost always reveals the geolocation of your ISP’s nearest servers — not your physical location at all — and your IP address also reveals the name of your ISP.
Finally, to put your mind at ease, we have answers to a few common IP address FAQs regarding what information an IP address reveals about you:
What does an IP address tell you? For the most part, an IP address tells you the city, ZIP code, or area code of your ISP, as well as your ISP’s name.
What can an IP address tell you? To some degree, your physical location and also the name of your ISP.
Can IP addresses reveal your identity? No, not outrightly. However, others can piece together bits of your identity, using your IP address and by following your online activity.
How others can find your IP address — and why they want to
For others to find your IP address, it is not as easy as searching “What is [insert name]’s IP address. ” It takes a bit more legwork. But it’s also not as difficult as some might think, considering we leave our digital footprints and, in turn, IP addresses behind online with every click.
Remember, IP addresses are like your membership card to the internet and are required to enter any website and webpage on it. So, every time you click something online it’s like signing a guestbook and your IP address is the signature you leave behind. This includes social media sites, internet forums, chatrooms, and blogs you comment on. All of these platforms can view your IP address.
Also, cybercriminals can find your IP address by hacking into your home network or placing a bug in email HTML.
For a more straightforward approach to find your IP address, others might simply borrow your device and Google “what is my IP address” or inspect the header of an email address. There are also IP lookup services, whereby users can simply copy and paste an IP address into a search bar and discover a person’s geolocation.
Authorities, including, law enforcement or fraud investigators, can also use subpoenas to contact your ISP and get your IP address.
But, why would other people want to know your IP address and what would they do with it?
Is it dangerous for people to know your IP address?
Since an IP address doesn’t outrightly reveal your personal information or confidential data, it’s generally not dangerous for people to know your IP address — but it all depends on who’s trying to access it.
Consider the following parties who might be interested in your IP address and why:
Authorities to piece together illegal activities
Employers to understand where you’re spending time online at work
Advertisers to target you with relevant products and services
Blacklist databases to block access from spammers
Retailers to cross-check your geolocation with your payment method’s mailing address
Chatrooms to block inappropriate users
Subscription services to block users from accessing content unavailable in their area or region
Hackers to install malware on your devices
Cybercriminals to put you at risk of Denial of Service attacks
Criminals who, if they already know your personal information, might call your ISP and commit a vishing attack
You might even want to use an IP address to confirm whether an online friend or virtual love interest resides where they say they do
As with most things in life, people’s intentions vary.
When it comes to others trying to find your IP address, some might have malicious intentions, such as to track you. Others, however, might be watching out for you, such as a well-intentioned bank confirming a transfer request is being submitted by you.
Finally, just because someone knows your IP address does not necessarily mean they will wind up on your doorstep. Still, you might want to take measures to protect your IP address.
How to protect your IP address
The simplest and most straightforward way to protect your IP address is to use a virtual private network (VPN) because this anonymizes your online activity using encryption. It also changes your IP address completely, placing your geolocation hundreds or maybe thousands of miles from where you actually are accessing the internet.
Talk about throwing someone off your digital tail.
The bottom line: IP addresses reveal geolocations and you can prevent this
No, IP addresses are not as sacred as our Social Security numbers, but it’s still worth understanding what an IP address reveals and also how to hide your IP address if you want to.
After all, being informed is a best practice when it comes to protecting our online privacy.
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What Can Someone Do With Your IP Address? | CactusVPN
Privacy is more important than ever nowadays – especially on the Internet. In fact, you’ll hear tons of people and read dozens of articles talking about how vital it is to hide your IP address when you’re online.
But what can someone do with your IP address, actually?
Table of contents
How Can People Find Your IP Address?
So, What Can Someone Do With Your IP Address?
Can My IP Address Be Hacked and Used?
Can Someone Remotely Access My Computer With My IP Address?
How to Protect Your IP Address from Hackers, Advertisers, and Surveillance
What to Do If Someone Has Your IP Address
Here’s all you need to know:
What Is an IP Address?
An IP (Internet Protocol) address acts as an identifier for the device you use to access the web. That helps websites know exactly where to send the data you ask for through connection sides just identifying your device, your IP address also reveals your geo-location since it contains info like:What country you are city you are your ISP your ZIP code is.
The easiest way for someone to find your IP address is if you torrent files, that makes it very simple for every member of the Swarm (the total number of seeders and leechers) to see your IP address. They just need to check the list of peers, and they can see your whole address right there – along with the type and version of the torrent client you’re, if you send an email to anyone, they can just check the email message’s header since it might contain your IP address. Not all email services reveal IP addresses, though. For example, Gmail doesn’t do that (they only show their mail server’s address), but Yahoo! and Microsoft Outlook do. A more unconventional way for someone to find your IP address is if you run a website, and host it on your own server at home. They can just open their operating system’s command prompt, and ping the website’s domain. When they do that, the command prompt will return the website’s IP ternatively, they could just use an online IP lookup tool to do the same course, if you use a data center server to host your website, you don’t need to worry about that.
Here are other “minor” ways someone could find your real IP address:
By checking the web server logs of the websites you visit. Don’t forget – every website you access sees and stores your IP address. Of course, only website owners and admins can see that info – or pretty much anyone if the website suffers a data HTML bugs can reveal your IP address when you open an email or view an image in said email. This isn’t exactly a “bug, ” but a piece of code in a transparent image that’s present in an email. People can use services like WhoReadMe to attach such an image to the emails they send. If you interact with the message, the service will alert the sender, and will also show them your location (so, your IP address) someone is in your home, and are using your WiFi network, they can just use Google, and type “what is my IP address, ” and they’ll instantly see, blog, and gaming server admins can see your real IP address. That’s how they block you, after teracting with any online ad (especially on social media) will reveal your IP address to meone could use a tool like Grabify to create a link to a legit website, and send it to you. Clicking on the link takes you to a real website, but will also allow the person who sent it to track info about you, including your IP address.
Here are the main ways your online experience can take a hit if someone has your IP address:
Restrict Your Access to Certain Services
“If someone has my IP address what can they do to my online access? ”
Well, content providers can use your IP address to target you with geo-blocks – content restrictions that essentially prevent you from accessing a web page or the content on a website if you’re from a blacklisted geographical region.
Like we already mentioned, your IP address leaks your geo-location, and any website you send connection requests to or visit will see and log your IP address.
That’s how services like Netflix or Hulu keep people from accessing US content from other countries, for example.
Spam You With “Personalized” Ads
Ever looked up an article reviewing the best vacuum cleaners, read it and closed it, only to later see tons of vacuum cleaner ads on your social media feed?
The vacuum cleaner is just an example – really, anything goes with that statement.
Well, that creepy “coincidence” is actually how advertisers track you on the web, and spam you with ads you “might” be interested in.
Advertisers normally use tracking pixels, but they also make use of your IP address too. With it, they can deliver location-based ads that are in your native language.
Some people might find that useful, but for most of us it feels like an invasion of our privacy.
Add It to a Database and Sell It on the Dark Web
Some hackers might collect IP addresses to sell them on the dark web for a profit.
Naturally, a cybercriminal won’t sell just your IP address. That’s not really worth much to anyone. Instead, they’ll compile a whole database containing user data they stole from various websites – and that data includes your IP address.
Still, that doesn’t mean you should take this lightly. If someone buys your IP address on the dark web, it’s not because they have good intentions with it. They’ll either try to use it to impersonate you, find out personal info about you, or use it in scams.
Find Limited Personal Info About You
Don’t think someone could find your name, physical address, and phone number by just knowing your IP address.
At most, they’d be able to pinpoint your location to a specific area – a country, city, or even a neighborhood.
Still, if the cybercriminal is skilled enough, they could find out who your ISP is from your IP address, and use phishing and vishing attacks against them to find out your personal details. Stuff like that has happened before, so it’s no speculation.
Cyberstalkers who are persistent enough could also try using your IP address to track your online actions, and find more personal information about you. Though, again, that would only work if they manage to trick your ISP into revealing sensitive data, or hack them to get it.
DoS/DDoS Your Network
If a cybercriminal knows your IP address, they can DDoS/DoS you – essentially flood your network with unwanted traffic to the point where your web connection goes down.
This tends to happen a lot in online gaming – with upset players DoS/DDoS-ing other players.
Sue You for Copyright Infringement
Yep, stuff like that can happen if you live in a country where the law is very tough on torrenting – like the US, for instance.
Torrent monitoring and copyright agencies might keep an eye on torrent traffic, and single out your IP address. If they do that, they can find out who your ISP is, and get in touch with them to ask them to hande over your contact details and personal information.
Then, depending on how serious your “torrenting crime” is, they might just threaten you with DMCA notices, or they could sue you directly.
Prevent You from Playing Online Games
This just applies to online games. Basically, an admin who’s a sore loser might ban you from the match.
Now, when they ban you, they’re actually banning your IP address. Since the gaming server blacklists it, you can’t reconnect to it anymore until someone lifts the ban.
“Can My IP Address Be Hacked and Used? ”
Not exactly, though you might see people talking about “IP hacks” online.
However, a cybercriminal can’t exactly hack an IP address. It’s just a number, not software or hardware.
“Okay, so what can a hacker do with an IP address then? ”
Well, a cybercriminal could theoretically use your IP address. To do that, they’d need to hack your device, therefore getting access to its IP address. That, or they could get access to your home WiFi network – which they can easily do if you don’t secure it properly.
Once they’re using your network or device, they can start doing illegal stuff with your IP address – like making death threats or downloading illegal torrents, child pornography, or content that might threaten the country’s national security.
“Can Someone Remotely Access My Computer With My IP Address? ”
Usually, no. Just knowing someone’s IP address isn’t exactly enough to remotely hack their devices.
Still, a very skilled cybercriminal could use your IP address to scan for open ports associated with it. If you’re not familiar with ports, just think of them as pipelines data flows through into and out of your network and device.
If a hacker were to manage to find an open port, and gain control over it (and many others), they might have a way to remotely control your computer. However, that can only happen if your operating system is out of date, you don’t use antivirus/antimalware software, and you turned your firewall off.
Another thing a cybercriminal could do is use your IP address to learn personal info about you and your browsing habits, and use phishing methods to try and trick you into installing malicious software on your device. If they’re successful, they can get remote access to your device.
Here are some good ways to hide your IP address to make sure nobody can track or steal it:
1. Use a VPN Service
A VPN is an online service you can use to quickly and easily hide your IP address. All you need to do is connect to a VPN server, and it will automatically replace your real IP address with its own address.
Before committing to a VPN, it’s a good idea to test the connection well to make sure it doesn’t suffer any IP leaks.
Also, using a VPN with a Kill Switch is preferable. That way, if you ever lose your VPN connection for any reason, you won’t need to worry about anyone seeing your real IP address since the VPN will automatically cut off your web access until the connection is running again.
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2. Use a Proxy Server
Much like a VPN, a proxy server will also hide your IP address whenever you connect to it. However, it doesn’t offer the same level of security VPNs do.
So you don’t get high-end encryption that properly secures your traffic and data. Also, proxy servers often tend to be slower than VPN servers, so keep that in mind.
If you’re worried about that, but still want to use a proxy server, consider getting a VPN whose servers double as proxy servers – like CactusVPN, for instance.
3. Switch WiFi Networks
If you’re worried someone is targeting your IP address, and you have access to multiple WiFi networks, just switch between them. The moment you connect to a network, you’ll get a new IP address.
Of course, this isn’t an ideal solution. Public WiFi is pretty risky and full of cyber threats since most networks don’t use any kind of encryption.
4. Switch to Mobile Data
If you don’t have any WiFi networks you can use (can happen if you’re at home), another way to hide your IP address is to just turn on your mobile data.
When you do that, you’ll start using your cell phone provider’s network, so you’ll get a new IP address.
5. Talk With Your ISP
Since your ISP is the one who assigns IP addresses to you, it’s obvious you need to talk with them if you want to change it.
You could try seeing if they’d be willing to offer you a dynamic IP address – basically an address that changes every single time you go on the web.
Of course, if your ISP agrees, they might charge you more for that. And they might have you answer a few questions or fill out some forms too.
What About Tor?
Sure, Tor can also hide your IP address. It’s an anonymity network, after all.
However, there’s one big problem with it – the network already had a flaw some time ago that leaked users’ real IP addresses.
True, it was fixed, but who knows if an issue like that will show up again? The last thing you want is randomly exposing your IP address without even knowing it.
Besides that, you’ll also have to put up with other issues like the lack of encryption on the exit relay, having to only use the Tor browser, and slow speeds since there aren’t enough relays to support the huge number of Tor users.
Well, it’s pretty obvious – change it. You can do that with a VPN or proxy, or by asking your ISP to do it for you.
Other than that, there’s not much you can do. If you fear a cybercriminal is using your address to download or do illegal things, it’s best to alert the authorities as soon as possible.
What Can Someone Do With Your IP Address? The Bottom Line
Quite a lot – they can use it to find out approximate details about your location (country, city, ZIP code, ISP), restrict your access to certain websites or gaming servers, and target you with annoying ads.
As for how someone can find your IP address, they can try many things – from using IP lookup tools and checking the list of peers on torrent clients to using email HTML bugs and online ads.
To make sure your privacy stays intact, you should use a VPN or a proxy server to hide your IP address whenever you’re on the web.
What Does Your IP Address Tell The World About You?
As you probably already know, your IP address is the address or logical location of your computer when it’s connected to the Internet. Networking software/hardware must know your IP address for you to connect and go online. Thankfully, you don’t need to know your IP address every time and enter it in, like a password. However, if you ever want to know what it is, you can find out quickly by going to
Websites and networks also need to know your IP address, in the digital way that computers do. IP addresses are part of TCP/IP, the protocols that networks speak that allow us all to get online. Think of it as a common digital language.
And while it’s somewhat rare for an individual to need or want your IP address, there are ways for them to get it. In fact, almost anyone that you email could find yours out.
But what is it they would get? Click here to find out.
It’s no secret.
A lot of people worry that their IP address might reveal their name, home address, age, what they look at online and more. That’s just not the case. Sure, they might find out some interesting information, but nothing revealing.
Let’s show you what you can discover by running a real IP address through the IP Lookup feature at You can use a random IP address for the test—even yours. But for this exercise, we’ll use 68. 4. 39. 37.
This number is the IP address of a computer/router that’s connected to the Internet somewhere in Southern California. If there is a single computer on that account, it’s the IP address linked to the computer. If the computer is connected to a router, it’s the router’s address.
The IP Lookup feature isn’t linked to an extensive Internet directory. It’s not like the landline phone system, where you could grab a phone directory or call the telephone operator and try to match a name and street address to a telephone number. (Talk about a lack of privacy! )
In the Internet world, there’s no such thing—not for an ordinary citizen and not even for law enforcement, without a subpoena.
IP Lookup in action.
When you visit the IP Lookup page and paste an address into the empty box, here’s what you’ll find out:
The first time you see the IP details—especially your city, ZIP code and the area code of where you live—it can be a bit a surprising. The IP details aren’t always close. They can be hundreds of miles off, and if the person is using a VPN and a different IP address, the information can be highly inaccurate.
But it’s important to see what you don’t get in the IP details, and never will. You don’t see any real information about the person who is using that assigned IP address, including a street name and address. You will get the name of the Internet Service Provider that serves the domain name…in this case, the cable company Cox Communications. In most cases, knowing the name of the ISP is all that somebody wants to know.
Getting to the source.
There are a handful of practical reasons people use IP Lookup, even with its limitations:
Law enforcement and fraud investigators use online tools to see what ISP is hosting a spammer.
Blacklist databases use it to find spammers or other violators and block their access to email servers.
Retailers often use IP Lookup to make sure someone charging thousands of dollars is at the mailing address linked to the card…and not actually overseas with a stolen credit account.
You can use it to verify that someone who tells you in an email that they’re across town isn’t really in an abandoned warehouse in another country.
Find out what can be seeing about your IP address by clicking here.
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What is an IP Address?
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How Someone Can Get Your IP Address
IP Address Lookup Tool
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Frequently Asked Questions about what can you learn from an ip address
What can someone learn from your IP address?
So, What Can Someone Do With Your IP Address?Restrict Your Access to Certain Services. … Spam You With “Personalized” Ads. … Add It to a Database and Sell It on the Dark Web. … Find Limited Personal Info About You. … DoS/DDoS Your Network. … Sue You for Copyright Infringement. … Prevent You from Playing Online Games. … Use a VPN Service.More items…•Sep 12, 2019
Can IP address reveal identity?
A lot of people worry that their IP address might reveal their name, home address, age, what they look at online and more. That’s just not the case. Sure, they might find out some interesting information, but nothing revealing. … You can use a random IP address for the test—even yours.
What happens if someone knows your IP address?
If someone has your IP address, they could send you spam or restrict your access to certain services. … And, of course, law enforcement can track you through your IP address by contacting your ISP. An IP address by itself, though, doesn’t give anyone access to your personal information automatically.Aug 23, 2021