I took a poll.

Most people say that the only people out there who know your IP address is your Internet Service Provider (ISP)…the Cox Cables and Verizons of the world.

Those people are wrong.

Truth is, you give away your IP address every time you connect to a website, send an email, use a messenger or app, regardless of its legitimacy.

It’s just a network number of some kind, right? What’s the concern?

What Your IP Address Reveals About You. The Basics.

The most information an average curious person can find out about you with only your IP address is who your ISP is, your latitude and longitude (whatever purpose that serves) and what country, city or town you’re in…which sometimes show a location several miles away or a different city altogether.

Some sites will show you what type of OS, browser, connection or device you are using – try it for yourself.

It’s important to note that the information above is not really about, you but is about your online connection.

The type of information that most people want—like an actual name, location, phone number, and email address— is not something they can get on their own.

That information is protected by the ISP and not a matter of public record. In fact, ISPs will only share a subscriber’s information for legal reasons – usually following a court order.

Having said that, you’re probably wondering why you should care if someone “spies” on your IP address.

Here’s Why They Want Your IP.

By knowing your IP address, a business or your ISP can track, target or block you.

Anonymity is one of the Internet’s basic principles. As an average internet user…

  • You want to be able to post or comment on the news, a blog article or YouTube video without fear of repercussions or harassment.
  • You also want to visit websites or to research topics without having a bunch of advertisements follow you around.
  • You want the security of knowing that your online transactions are protected.

In countries where internet usage is heavily monitored and restricted by the government, online anonymity provides the citizens a measure of safety in freedom of expression.

But those protections are disappearing.

With the repeal of net neutrality in the U.S., ISPs can eventually use your IP address to block, throttle or charge you more for access to different types of online content.

Here are seven ways someone might get Your IP address:

  1. By borrowing your computer or smart device. If somebody uses or borrows your computer, they can find out your IP address simply by going to WhatIsMyIPaddres.com.
  2. By tapping into your wireless network. If your home network isn’t secure, a stranger can tap into your wireless network. Also, if you let a guest use your network (you provide the password) they will know your IP address.
  3. Through an email HTML Bug. This bug isn’t a virus or malicious. It’s simply a piece of code embedded in an image that’s included with an email you read. If you view the image (it could be as simple as opening the email), the bug simply tells the sender that you read the email…and it also provides your IP address. Services like WhoReadMe.com help people set up email bugs like this.
  4. From blog comments. Bloggers write in part to hear the opinions of their readers. Not only can the blog administrator read what you have to say, they can uncover your IP address with a few keystrokes.
  5. Through social media. Social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) do not reveal IP addresses between users…however, the site administrators know your IP address. Also, if you click on an ad or link on the site, the can capture your IP address.
  6. Out of messaging apps. Your mobile phone uses an IP address every time you engage someone through a messaging app, such as WhatsApp and Viber. Your IP address is invisible to the person you message, but if-and-when you click on a link in a message, the website you sent it to has access to your IP address. Sites like grabbify.link and iplogger.org are used to create trackable links.
  7. Through a court order. In late 2016, revisions to a U.S. federal security measure called Rule 41 gave the FBI and others more leeway while investigating online activities. The request for subpoenas to get IP addresses (and home addresses) is much easier now.

Fight back and win.

Your IP address is “capturable” most of the time you’re online but that doesn’t mean all is lost. There are ways you can gain the upper hand.

You can start with the basics by regularly cleaning out cookies that websites use to track you, and your browsing history, which can be used to identify where you’ve been.

You can also explore ways of hiding your IP to get that extra layer of protection to set your mind at ease.

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Chris Parker

Chief Marketing Technologist at CGP Holdings, Inc.
Founder and Chief Marketing Technologist of WhatIsMyIPAddress.com, the leading IP address lookup site. Chris has 15+ years of experience building and managing high traffic web sites. Web developer, programmer, IT Guy.
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