Connect with us

News

IP Address Tracking and How To Protect Yourself

Published

on

unnamed 12 1

There were 5.18 billion Internet users worldwide in April this year, constituting no less than 64.6 percent of the global population. Much as we enjoy the revolutionary benefits of information technology, we must be ready to accept its opposite reality, which isn’t always pleasant for unprotected users.  

When it comes to online protection, a paramount concern is the Internet Protocol (IP) address. An IP address is a numerical string that serves as a unique identifier for every device connected to the Internet. The problem with these numbers is their trackability.  

Once known, a person’s IP address can expose their online activities and compromise their privacy and safety. In fact, for as long as IP addresses identify online devices, tracking them will always pose a threat. 

But users aren’t necessarily helpless. Protection begins with a solid understanding of IP tracking, the motivations behind it, and proactive measures users can take to block attempts by malicious actors.  

IP Address Tracking and How It Happens  

Tracking an IP address can be as simple as using a free IP address tracker online. By entering an IP address in the lookup tool, the searcher can obtain information about the user, such as their city, ZIP code, and Internet Service Provider (ISP). 

More often than not, Internet users unknowingly reveal their IP addresses, exposing themselves to hacking and other hazards. For example, just by clicking links or ads, their IP addresses will automatically be accessible to the source. 

Each time people visit a website, fill out an online form, send an email, post on an online forum, or sign up with a social media or P2P platform, the server on the other side instantly stores their unique identifiers.  

Connecting to fake free Wi-Fi hotspots is another way people can inadvertently show their IP addresses. Bolder hackers can trick people upfront into revealing their IP addresses through impersonation or other social engineering attacks. 

The Dangers of Exposed IP Addresses

As mentioned, an IP address can reveal a person’s geographical location with phone number and ISP. While these two pieces of information may seem harmless, cyberhackers can exploit them for malicious purposes, including:  

Profiling crime victims

After knowing an IP address owner’s physical address, hackers can stalk them on social media, viewing their activities, contacts, and other information that makes them easy prey for robbery and other crimes. 

Phishing 

In phishing attacks, perpetrators digitally impersonate a person or entity to acquire confidential data like login credentials and credit card numbers. 

A phisher cannot perform a sensitive transaction with an IP address alone, but it can aid in deception. For example, they can convince a bank to provide the victim’s account number by using their IP address, which institutions are known to use for verification purposes. 

Data selling on the dark web

Cybercriminals are known to sell IP addresses on the dark web, such as what happened during the 2019 Evite security breach. When the social planning company refused to pay for the safety of the hacked information, including IP addresses, all the data ended up for sale on the Internet’s unregulated side. The data breach affected over 10 million Evite users. 

Data theft and malware infection

An IP address has thousands of ports through which a hacker can access a victim’s device. Once inside, they can steal stored data or infect the system with malware, allowing them to continue their hacking agenda undetected.  

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack

In a DDos attack, perpetrators bombard a website with traffic to prevent future user access. The motivations can vary, from disgruntled employees making a statement to a competitor stealing time and business away. It can also be for plain and simple extortion, with the attacker pledging to stop in exchange for a ransom payment. 

In 2020, Amazon Web Services (AWS) survived a 2.3-Tbps attack – the biggest in history – but the reasons remain unknown. 

Criminal frame-up

With the information hackers can get through an IP address, they can easily commit crimes using their victim’s identity. They may purchase explosives or controlled substances, framing their victim for their illegal activities.  

Privacy violations

Some people can look up IP addresses without any criminal intent. But the act can still be uncomfortable for the targets and may even constitute an invasion of their privacy. Here are some common scenarios involving privacy violations related to IP address lookups:

  • Marketing. Some companies search their website visitors’ IP addresses to send personalized ads and spam mail.
  • Employee monitoring. Employers can monitor their staff’s online activities through their IP addresses.
  • Blocking/blacklisting. Online service providers like social media sites and gaming platforms may block the IP addresses of users who have violated their policies or whose actions or opinions they find unacceptable.  

How To Protect Yourself 

unnamed 13 1

The threat of IP tracking is so significant that Internet giants like Apple and Google are restricting the use of IP addresses with new technologies. These technologies include those that prevent cross-site tracking or those that enable users to use fake IP addresses. Nonetheless, the problem remains controllable with basic user knowledge, common sense, and a few handy tips, such as the following:

Be mindful of passwords 

Passwords are not foolproof, but they can be stronger and more reliable when created strategically. 

The first basic rule of password safety is to create one personally instead of relying on a default password programmed into a device. The second is to include a good mix of alphanumeric and special characters. The third is to change passwords routinely. 

When combined, these techniques leave enough room to confuse a hacker and evade a hacking attempt.  

Restrict apps accordingly  

Instant messengers and other communication apps are helpful for most users, but cybercriminals can also use them to mine IP addresses. Hence, people must be discriminating when deciding on apps to install. Switching app settings from public to private is also smart, and so is avoiding calls from unknown numbers.  

Be suspicious of emails from unknown sources

Phishing emails can be deceptive. They’re often disguised as emails from reputable sources, but they can be easy to spot. They’re usually sent from public domains or domains that read like popular brand names with a slight spelling twist – for example, “nikee.com” instead of “nike.com.” 

Another telltale sign of a phishing email is an email body riddled with grammar and spelling errors and a message that creates a sense of urgency. 

Use antivirus software or anti-malware 

Because of the nature of the Internet, users usually remain vulnerable to threats despite practicing safety measures. Antivirus software or anti-malware offers that extra layer of protection everyone needs. Among other abilities, these tools can detect ambiguities in received emails, warn users about clicking on suspicious links, and notify them of any unusual activity on their devices.  

Use a virtual private network (VPN)  

By installing a virtual private network (VPN), users can go about their usual online activities without fear of hacking, thanks to encryption. This means all data entering and leaving a VPN-protected device will be undecipherable for hackers, including the user’s IP address.  

By blocking access to IP addresses, VPNs also effectively block other risks threatening non-VPN users. Even a hacker who knows how to find the IP address on a printer or any seemingly hack-safe hardware will not stand a chance with a reputable and correctly installed VPN.  

Online Safety Begins With a Safe IP Address

As posted on the International Association of Chiefs of Police website, all cybercrime investigations begin with an IP address. This highlights how critical this identifier is to its owner’s safety, and for the same reason, it is a gold mine for hackers.  

Fortunately, protecting an IP address is a simple task. But it requires fundamental knowledge of this crucial bit of data, especially its vulnerabilities. Beyond that, it only takes vigilance to ensure that an IP address remains safe from the prowling eyes of a cyber crook.    

 

Jean-Pierre is a polyglot communication specialist, freelance journalist, and writer for startup.info with over two decades of experience in media and public relations. He creates engaging content, manages communication campaigns, and attends conferences to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. He brings his wealth of experience and expertise to provide insightful analysis and engaging content for startup.info's audience.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notion for Startups

Top of the month

Copyright © 2023 STARTUP INFO - Privacy Policy - Terms and Conditions - Sitemap - Advisor

ABOUT US : Startup.info is STARTUP'S HALL OF FAME

We are a global Innovative startup's magazine & competitions host. 12,000+ startups from 58 countries already took part in our competitions. STARTUP.INFO is the first collaborative magazine (write for us or submit a guest post) dedicated to the promotion of startups with more than 400 000+ unique visitors per month. Our objective : Make startup companies known to the global business ecosystem, journalists, investors and early adopters. Thousands of startups already were funded after pitching on startup.info.

Get in touch : Email : contact(a)startup.info - Phone: +33 7 69 49 25 08 - Address : 2 rue de la bourse 75002 Paris, France