what can someone do with your IP address

What Can Someone Do with Your IP Address?

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PureVPN UpdatesWhat Can Someone Do with Your IP Address?

If you’re unaware of the phrase “IP address,” you’re probably living under a rock. An IP address is your digital passport to the internet. Although it provides you an individual identity on the web, an IP address could give away your physical location/online activities/private data, and more.

Before we move towards what someone can do with your IP address, it’s crucial to understand how others can get your IP address in the first place.

How Could You Lose Your IP to an Outsider?

Most internet users have a dynamic IP address. Unless you have a dedicated IP, your IP address will change every few days or each time you manually reset the modem provided by your ISP.

While there are several ways someone can find your IP address, these are the most common:

  • By Borrowing your Device

If someone were to borrow your device or use it for a little while, they could quickly learn what your IP address is in seconds.

  • Connecting to your WiFi Network

If someone connects to your unsecured home network either directly or by you disclosing your network’s password to them, they can quickly figure out your IP address. 

  • Through your Email

Although most email providers no longer reveal your IP address, your offices’ email system might be antiquated and thus could reveal your IP address. It doesn’t take a tech-savvy person to locate the IP address from an email as it’s displayed within mail  headers in many situations.

  • Torrenting

Torrent sites are swamped with malicious actors. As you download torrents, your IP address is visible to each member of the particular swarm. They only need to view the list of peers to find out your IP address.

  • Port Forwarding

By opening ports for an online game or any other service, you risk leaking your IP address and location to eavesdroppers who connect through these open ports. However, you can securely port forward without leaving a trace.

By clicking an external web link, you end up providing your IP address to another party via their web analytics. The individual who runs the server at the other end will be able to see your IP address. Clickbait content is designed for the very purpose of figuring out your IP address to target you with ads.

  • Through Forums

Although contributors on forums will know you by your profile name, your IP address identifies your device to the administrator. By not adhering to the forum rules, the administrator can potentially use your IP address to ban you.

  • Site Administrators

Any website administrator (think Google, Facebook, Yahoo, TikTok, whatever you connect to) is well aware of who is visiting the site and from where. They know this through your IP address and geolocation associated with that IP address.

  • Through Messaging Apps

Although your chats on messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram are encrypted, clicking a link will lead the sender’s site administrator to know your IP address.

  • Law Enforcement Agencies

Government bodies such as law enforcement agencies can quickly gain access to your IP address and geolocation in the United States thanks to Rule 41, a law passed in late 2016. There are similar rules in other countries throughout the world. 

The ways mentioned above aren’t the only avenues for figuring out your IP address and location.

What Can Someone Do with Your IP?

The severity of someone knowing your IP address depends on what’s associated with your IP address. This certainly doesn’t mean that if your device doesn’t host ‘valuable data’ that it won’t be of any worth to a snooper.

The biggest misconception is that people think ‘my data isn’t worth it’ or ‘I don’t care.’ The repercussions of having your IP exposed can be detrimental. Here’s what someone can do with your IP address:

Your IP can be used to Track your Location

Your IP address reveals your physical location. Each IP address is unique and distinguishes you from the rest, making it easier to locate you. If you’ve publicly announced to be in a particular city, an evil intended individual only needs to do a little extra digging to find your location and confront you.

Simultaneously, government agencies and hackers can use your IP address to locate you and arrest you if necessary. Your IP address is vulnerable online unless you mask your real IP address with a dummy IP address.

Your IP can be used to Hack your Device

IP addresses are linked to ports that navigate through the internet gateways and virtually connect internet-enabled devices. Connecting to the internet brings its set of challenges, and a hacker who has gained knowledge of your IP can hack those ports via a brute-force attack.

The hacker could then take over your devices connected to the network and potentially install malware.

Your IP can be used to Imitate You

Once your IP address is exposed, cybercriminals can easily dig deeper to discover your name and social media handles. With such intricate details, criminals can impersonate you to gain access to your details, mostly financial information.

Such attacks are common and are known as vishing attacks. The impersonator could you’re your bank pretending to be you and make financial transactions. By the time you discover this, it might be too late.

Your IP can Limit your Access to Online Services

Restricting site access is standard among online streaming services. When you access sites like Netflix or Amazon Prime outside the countries they offer their services, you will no longer stream online content.

Such sites identify you via your IP address and restrict your access to their online services even if you’re their paid user.

how to hide your IP

Your IP can Bombard you with Advertisements

It’s common to make a search query regarding products and services to know more about them. However, what comes as a result of this harmless search query can be genuinely daunting and irritating.

Yes, ads. Online trackers and marketing agencies map your search query with your IP address. Hence, their intuitive crawlers will track you on the web for as long as you don’t change your IP address. This is an invasion of  auser’s online privacy.

Your IP can be Sold to the Highest Bidder

Cybercriminals are always on a hacking spree. Even the pandemic hasn’t stopped hackers from exploiting potential loopholes to earn a profit during hard times. Hacking attempts and data breaches are at an all-time high, and sadly, your IP address may be part of a massive breach.

Your IP address alone isn’t worth much. It’s the data associated with the IP address that makes it useful to the bidder. The buyer can use that sensitive data to target you or impersonate you, scamming you in the process.

Your IP can Reveal your Info

Although dynamic IP addresses frequently change, for the time they’re associated with you, the IP address can expose a great deal of information regarding you, such as your physical location and your web browsing activities.

Your IP makes you Vulnerable to DoS/DDoS Attacks

A DDoS attack uses multiple IP addresses to target a specific IP address. If your IP address is exposed and known to a hacker, they can quickly flood your network with excessive traffic, slowing down your network or shutting it down.

A website that experiences a DDoS attack, performance issues, and server crashes will maximize CPU capacity and memory resources, overwhelming its machines and its network.

Torrenting sites are discouraged for they violate copyright laws. If you’re caught downloading torrents from torrenting sites, you could receive a cease and desist, and you may even be sued, requiring you to pay a hefty fine.

There have been several cases in the US where individuals engaging in downloading torrents received a court order. By visiting the torrent site, the website is aware of your IP address. They may get in touch with your ISP to know who you are and potentially land you in trouble.

How to Stop Someone from Using Your IP Address

With your digital passport in someone else’s hand, things can go south in a matter of seconds. At this point, you must hide your IP address from intruders.

Here’s how you can stop someone from uncovering your IP address:

  • Privacy Tweaks of Messaging Apps

Messaging apps are the backbone of our daily communications. Hidden deep down in the settings are privacy options that are often ignored and set as default (meaning the privacy settings are switched off).

By implementing strong privacy settings, you minimize and eliminate the risk of having someone pry on your private conversations.

  • Frequently Update Firewall and Router Password

Firewalls are the first line of defense against intruders and unwanted internet traffic. It’s essential to keep your firewall up to date as updates carry the latest bug fixes that patch up potential vulnerabilities.

Simultaneously, your router’s WiFi password must be frequently updated with a strong and complex combination of alphanumeric characters. A secure IT infrastructure means a much more secure internet connection.

  • Switch between Internet Networks

By switching from one network to another, you’re essentially changing your IP address. As you change your IP address, you’re masking your previous digital identity with a new one.

You could switch between a home WiFi network and your mobile data network.

  • Opt for a Dynamic IP from your ISP

Typically, your ISP will assign you a dynamic IP address that will change every few days or each time you restart the router. Since a new IP address will get assigned to you, your previous IP address containing your online footprints would no longer be associated with you. Hence, you’ll begin with a fresh digital identity.

  • Use Tor

Tor (The Onion Router) is a browser software that facilitates users to communicate anonymously online. Tor ensures that your internet connection is secured against prying eyes via its relays or nodes.

  • Use a VPN

VPNs are largely regarded as the most reliable and safe way to browse anonymously online. This is primarily due to the way a VPN works, by assigning you a temporary virtual IP address.

Essentially, a VPN masks your real IP address and assigns you a different IP address of a location that’s dissimilar to yours, securing your online activities against prying eyes.

To stop someone from prying on your IP address, you must know How to Hide an IP Address.

All in all, your IP address can reveal an awful lot of information about you to strangers that may use that data to harm you. It’s essential that you mask your IP address and keep your digital identity confidential.

Ather Owais Ather Owais is a tech and cybersecurity enthusiast. He is a strong advocate for online privacy and security, following technological trends and their impact on today's digital era.

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