An Internet Protocol (IP) is the info that anyone can use to identify your device online. IP addresses allow access and communication via the computer network.
And let's be honest here - even tho IPs offer various epic benefits, they also have some dangers worth noticing. With an IP, you're identifiable to hackers, governments, and any other tech-savvy users. It means someone else can use your IP without you even knowing it.
So, if you're wondering what someone can do with your IP, let's clear the decks and start the lesson!
First of all, let's start from the basics. Your internet service provider (ISP) or company network sets your IP address every time you connect to the internet. It lets all the devices, connected to a computer network, to send and receive info from other network subjects.
IP usage is comparable to the principle of online shopping. To receive the package, it's necessary to reveal a home address. It shows where the parcel should be delivered. IPs work in a similar manner, as they help to know where to send the data and results of your queries. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?
Also, an IP is expressed by a string of numbers separated by periods. IPs are sets of four numbers, and each number can range from 0 to 255. It means, the full IP addressing range goes from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
There are numerous ways to find your IP. For example, you can visit https://ip.smartproxy.com. Other sites might also give some additional info about your location, ISP, device, and browser you're using.
It's worth mentioning that your home IP doesn't 'travel' together with you or your device. So, if you change a location, even if you're using the same gadget and the same IP checker, it will show a different IP since you will be connected to a different router.
Thus, bringing your computer to another continent or even to a local library will end up with different IP, as it comes from ISP or company network, not from the device itself.
And don't worry! You don't have to do anything or think about the IP connecting process at all. Internet, wireless networks, and all those Internet Protocols do this for you. Dope, right?
See, your IP holds certain info about you. People can find and use it for their purposes. Let's take a look at the most common ways to do that.
There are plenty of free websites that can tell you what's your IP. Someone can borrow your gadget and find out your IP in seconds.
Chill out - most internet and email providers today no longer reveal the IP of someone sending an email. However, some of them might still show it. For instance, Yahoo! and Microsoft Outlook still have IPs in the email header.
If your home network isn't secure, a stranger can tap into your wireless network and find your IP. BTW, if you let guests use your network by providing the password, they'll know your IP too.
Look at it this way - IP is like a digital pass to connect online. So, every time you visit a website, you provide your IP. A website server can always review all the IPs if they only want to.
Joining a forum to share ideas or to contribute to discussion sounds cool. But it's important to follow the rules of the forum - otherwise, an administrator will identify your IP and ban you.
When you download content from torrent sites, every member of the swarm can check the list of peers and see your IP.
If you follow our blog, you probably already know that free public proxies can cause you a lot of trouble. Apart from poor performance, they often don't hide your IP address from other users exploiting them - and if a malicious actor intercepts your traffic, you may have some serious regrets.
Ok, now when we know how you and others can find your IP, let's address the elephant in the room. So what can someone do with your IP? Here are some main cases you should keep in mind.
It's an easy thing to do, and most websites do this task automatically. All IPs are attached to their countries. This might be helpful when you visit a site from Germany, and the site provides the content to you in German.
But, on the other hand, when you're dealing with suspicious people online, and they find out which city or district you live in, it becomes dangerous. If you announce you're leaving for holiday and criminals detect your IP, they can do a little extra digging, look for your house, and rob it. Big yikes!
If someone knows your IP, be aware that they can try to connect to your computer directly. Every gadget uses ports that allow various services to connect to it. There are tens of thousands of ports for every IP. And a hacker who knows your IP can try to brute-force a connection. Once they succeed, hackers may take control of your device and even steal your data.
In addition, some hackers might add your device to a botnet, and use your IP for targeted advertising, scams, etc.
Your IP might give away your ISP. Hackers that know your Facebook name can then call up your provider and impersonate you. It's easier than it sounds, as demonstrations have shown telecom operators are very susceptible targets.
And wham-bam! You experience identity theft in a matter of hours.
Even tho the dangers of finding and using your IP for malicious purposes sound crappy, to say the least, every cloud has a silver lining. There are different ways to hide your IP.
The easiest way to do that is to use a proxy server. A proxy server is an intermediary between your device and the internet. There are numerous types of proxies, but only anonymous proxies hide your info from the server you're connecting to, while a reverse proxy would be used by the server owner to protect themselves.
If you want to find out more about what a proxy is and how the billions of users use it every day, read our blog.
Various internet providers try to fight the danger of using your IP. Some of them give you a different IP every time you connect. Others offer you a permanent IP or block of IPs. And the last ones can supply you with semi-permanent IPs that change occasionally. You're always free to choose your one and only!
Don't sweat it! Firstly, change your privacy settings on all your instant messaging and any other apps. Then contact your ISP for an IP change. Update your firewall and router. Change the password of your router, and be sure to use complicated passwords that include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.
Lastly, of course, don't forget to prevent yourself from further IP leaks. Always stay aware, and, if needed, hide your IP!