What Does An Ip Address Show
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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 is an IP address and what can it reveal about you?
Gary Nichols via U. S. Military
The nomenclature of the web is vast. But even though words become commonplace, people often don’t know what they really mean.
But they should.
An IP address, for instance, is a ubiquitous part of the online experience, but few know what it is. And, even scarier, many don’t know the kind of information IP addresses can reveal.
What is an IP address?
At its core, an IP address is an online unique identifier. Every computer has its own IP address, and it is through this naming system that computers can connect with each other and share data.
A standard IP address (using what’s known as the IPv4 protocol) contains four individual numbers separated by a decimal.
While every computer is given its own IP address, the outside world rarely has access to it. Routers, instead, connect to individual computers, and it’s the routers that then connect to the rest of the internet using their own individual IP address. Think of routers as the bridge between the network within your house (or business, library, coffee shop, etc. ) and the outside world network (that is, the internet).
When you send an email or visit a website, the IP address being shared is that of your local router — provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) — and not the individual address assigned to your computer. All the same, whether someone knows the address of your computer or your network, these numbers are able to tell a bit about who you are and what kind of sites you surf.
What sort of personal information is shared with an IP address?
This most personal kind of information that can be shared in IP address itself is geolocation. But the good news is, because you are connected to a network and it’s the network’s IP address being shared, your precise location is not shared.
For instance, you may send an email from your home, and someone may be able to know the city from which it was sent, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to access any other granular information about you.
Instead they’ll probably see the information of your ISP. While this may give geolocation data about the general area of your router, it will not give a street address.
But there’s a catch…
Alone, the IP address can’t share much more about you than a generalized location of where you might be at a certain time.
The trouble is, onlookers can in some cases look at the online activity associated with a particular IP address. Then, they can stitch together a lot of information about the people or even a single person who’s accessing the internet from that address.
The Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Office (OPC) set out to see what sort of information it could dig up using the IP address of its own network. From there the researchers used a search engine to find details about the people who had used the internet via that network.
Here are some of the sites and services the people using the OPC IP address visited:
Legal advice related to insurance law and personal injury litigation
A specific religious group
Online photo sharing
The revision history of a Wikipedia entry
The OPC also did a second experiment where it looked up the IP address of a person that had edited a Wikipedia entry (these IP addresses are public), then entered that IP address into a search engine. It got all kinds of information back, such as all the other entries that person had edited, and the fact that the person had visited an online message board related to sexual preferences.
The report explained that using these tactics it was not hard to get a “glimpse into the kind of portrait that authorities could be able to paint of individuals without needing to obtain prior judicial authorization. ”
In other words, an employer can figure out a lot about the people who are using the internet from work. Or, in theory, your ISP could figure out a lot about the activities of its subscribers. Or, an online advertising network could associate a particular IP address with a lot of online activity over time and use that to target advertising.
What is the worst case scenario?
With the help of the authorities, it is possible to discover more than just hearsay information. For instance, the OPC cites a case in the US where the authorities, knowing only the IP address, contacted the ISP and were able to find the identity of a person sending harassing emails.
They did this by receiving the exact locations where the emails were sent from the ISP. Many of these places were hotels, and the FBI was able to find one common name on all of the hotels’ guest lists. Then, the FBI got a warrant to investigate that person’s email account.
This does require a certain set of knowhow. While it’s relatively easy to find out an
(you can look up your own by going to websites like IP Chicken), finding real actionable information from it takes some finesse.
But once you have that finesse, with a little bit of imagination, some creepy details may be discovered.
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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