What an IP Address Can Reveal About You | Hacker Noon

@peternavarroPeter Navarro

Peter Navarro is responsible for employer branding at Sixt SE.

An IP address is nothing more than a unique online identifier. Each computer in the world has its own IP address and it is thanks to this naming system between machines that computers can connect to each other. Specifically, an IP, which uses what is known as the IPv4 protocol, contains four individual numbers separated by a period. 

It is true that despite the fact that each computer has its IP, it is rarely accessed. And it is not for anything else that we have a router in the middle, which acts as a bridge between the rest of the Internet and the computers or equipment in our house, and it is the IP of these that is really offered publicly. Another issue is mobile devices, they also have their IP and this is the one that is offered since they usually connect individually to the Internet.

What Happens to our IP Address When We Visit a Website?

When we visit a website or send an email, the IP that is shared, as we have mentioned, is actually that of the home router and the one assigned to us by our Internet operator – through which it also controls us and therefore can be connected remotely to fix the modem.

Despite the fact that the IP of the computer is not actually given, a lot of personal information is still being shared publicly thanks to it.

Before moving on, we always talk about information that the receiver or a website can capture, we do not talk about more advanced scenarios such as theft of information by hackers or police investigations, which with the due judicial authorizations presented to the Internet provider, can know a lot more.

Among other things, the most obvious thing that is shared is our geographical location. That is, the position of the router to which we have connected could be tracked. Although it is not a completely exact position on many occasions since, for example, if we send an email, the recipient can get to know, from which city it was made, but not from which street, for example.

Although the IP alone does not provide much information, it is the tool that can be used to learn more about the user. We give out more information than we think.

Just by visiting websites like IP Cost, it is possible to check which IP is assigned to us and certain data is already revealed, such as the browsers we use, the computer we use and even the version of the operating system we have.

And it is possible to monitor the use that is made by those who use this address to access the Internet and know things such as the user’s name, their telephone number or email.

A practical case of IP address security leaks

This is something that the  Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Office did, revealing that it had been able to obtain information from who used its IP such as:

– Religious affiliation

– Physical state

– Shared photos

– Wikipedia reviews

– Information related to a legal problem of a user

The OPC continued with its study and isolated the IP of the person who had edited the Wikipedia website, since the IPs of this website are public.

Just by entering his IP in a search engine, OPC obtained information such as other entries that he had modified in the online encyclopedia and even the visits he had made to a certain forum that revealed his sexual orientation.

Is there a way to protect yourself?

100% can never be assured, but 99% is possible. The trick to make monitoring our IP more difficult, not impossible, is simply to hide it.

This is achieved through what is called a “proxy server”, which acts as an intermediary between the Internet and our router. 

In essence, what is done is that we connect to this server instead of a website, and it will be this server, with its own IP, which will enter the corresponding page, giving its own credentials and not ours.

However, this has its drawbacks. There are web pages, online services, and content that do not work with anonymous browsing connections and the speed usually slows down.

This is where a trusted VPN comes in handy which lets us browse sites that, until now, our operator had banned us or couldn’t be accessed from our country.

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