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 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
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What can someone do with my IP address? | NordVPN
There are dangers to someone knowing your IP address, but they’re rarely discussed. Criminals can use your IP to launch various cyberattacks and scams against you and others. Before we begin, however, let’s start with finding out what your personal IP address is: What is my IP? By the end of this post, you’ll know what to protect yourself against and discover ways to hide your IP address. Pretty can someone find my IP address? Your IP address is a unique string of numbers assigned to you by your ISP – like a delivery address for online traffic. If you connect to a different Wi-Fi or move house, your IP address will change along with your ISPs use dynamic IP addresses, which aren’t fixed to your device, but you can have a static IP if you wish to (you can learn more about different types of IP addresses here). For example, if you want your computer IP address to always stay the same, you’ll be able to specify that through the device’s settings. This can be useful when port-forwarding, if you want certain data to be sent directly from your router to your computer IP your IP address holds certain information about you, someone may want to use it for malicious purposes. There plenty of ways people can get hold of your IP address. Here are just a few:If you torrent files. When you download content from torrent sites, every member of the swarm (total seeders and leechers) can see your IP address. All they need to do is check the list of borrowing your device. If somebody borrows or uses your computer, they can find out what your IP address is in seconds, as there are countless free websites that let you do an email. If you send an email to someone, they can check the header of the message, which could contain your IP address. Yahoo! and Microsoft Outlook are known to include IP addresses in the email icking on a link. Any link you click on will need to provide your iP address for the server at the other end to deliver the content provided by the link. Whoever owns that server will see your IP a VPN hide my IP address? Yes, it does. A VPN completely hides your IP address and encrypts your internet connection. Even better, a VPN prevents third parties like your ISP from eavesdropping on your data. Your online activity cannot be traced back to you, giving you a powerful layer of rdVPN has more than 5500 servers in 59 countries, providing you with the best speeds available. With one NordVPN account, you can protect up to six different devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more. You can also install it on your router and secure gadgets that don’t support VPN functionality can jump from one server to another in seconds, changing your IP address and masking your location. Protect your online privacy out NordVPN on the latest cyber news and tipsWhat can people do with your IP? While your IP address won’t give away sensitive information like your phone number or apartment position, hackers can still use your IP against you. If a cybercriminal knows your IP address, the consequences can be devastating:Someone can get your location and intrude on your privacy in real lifeYour IP address shows what city you’re in, so if someone ill-intentioned finds it out, you could be in trouble. Let’s say you’ve announced that you’re going on holiday on your social media. A criminal only needs to do a little extra digging to find your house and burgle it while you’re meone can use your IP to hack your deviceThe internet uses ports as well as your IP address to connect. There are thousands of ports for every IP address, and a hacker who has your IP can try all of those ports to brute-force a connection, taking over your phone for example and stealing your a criminal does get access to your device, they could also install malware on it, which could expose your meone can impersonate you to get hold of your IP addressYour ISP could reveal your IP address to someone else. Criminals who know your name on social media can contact your ISP and try to impersonate you or use a vishing attack to steal your personal details. Remember that telecom operators are only humans who use systems with vast amounts of personally identifiable information. Employers can track your activityIPs are owned by ISPs, and each IP is assigned to a user. When you’re connected to your work network your employers could potentially see and track everything you do online – giving you hardly any privacy at all. A hacker can hit you with a DDoS attackIf a hacker has your IP address, they could harm you with a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. A DDoS attack uses an army of computers controlled by a hacker to flood your device with traffic so it disconnects from the internet and completely shuts bercriminals can frame you for illegal activityHackers are known to use hacked IP addresses to download illegal content that threatens national security as well as anything else they don’t want traced back to them. Protect your IP address, and you will protect do I stop someone from using my IP address? You should always protect any personally identifiable information even if you think the risks do not apply to you. With enough determination, a bad actor can stitch together an entire identity just by going online, and your IP could be the starting are three ways to protect your IP address and prevent yourself from being exploited by hackers: Change your privacy settingsChange the settings on all your instant messaging as well as any other apps to “private” and don’t accept calls or messages from people you don’t know. Hackers are known to gain access to your IP address through messaging apps like Skype. Update your firewall and routerA criminal can hack your router remotely and retrieve your IP address, especially if you’re still using the default one. Change the password of your router regularly and be sure to use a long mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Use a VPNA VPN will protect your IP address and your private information. By routing your online data through a VPN server with its own IP address, you can prevent websites from logging information about your device and location. While you might be principally interested in VPNs for their IP-switching functionality, they also come with a range of additional other benefits can a VPN offer? A VPN will establish an encrypted tunnel between your device and a VPN server. That means that no one can spy on your data as it moves from your device to the server — not even your internet service provider (ISP) has never been more valuable. Your ISP can monitor your activity and sell that information to advertisers and other third parties. Hackers can steal your passwords and use your private details to launch phishing attacks. It’s vital that you protect your rdVPN provides a number of extra features that you might find particularly useful. Our CyberSec system will enhance your protection against malware by shielding you from high-risk websites and other known threats. When Kill Switch is enabled, you can avoid any unexpected data exposure. And with the NordLynx protocol, you can enjoy unrivaled speeds, without compromising on out NordVPN on the latest cyber news and tips
Zen likes to use her cybersecurity knowledge to help protect the privacy and freedom of others, otherwise, you can find her playing with paints in her studio in London.