How Your IP Address Reveals Your Location
Whether you are using your home Wi-Fi, accessing the Internet at a coffee shop, or shopping at a mall kiosk, each time you connect to the Internet, you reveal your location. How? Through your IP address. The internet protocol address helps computers connect to each other and consists of numbers broken down by dots. However, while it’s not as easily traceable as your Internet browsing history, with enough digging an IP address can lead scammers right to your front door.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a series of numbers that identifies a computer or server on the internet. The IP address is used to communicate and transfer information between two devices. It can be used to determine the location of your device through GPS or for example, find your router’s IP address.
The IP address, also known as IPv4 and IPv6, is more than just a number that identifies your device, it can hold valuable information regarding your physical location as well. Tracing the geolocation of an IP address is a common method used by private investigators to determine the approximate location of a subject. Similarly, hackers and those wishing to cause harm can also use this method to obtain location information about their victims.
A quick online search using an IP address will reveal the geolocation of a device and its associated personal information such as latitude, longitude, and postal code. A static IP address refers to one that stays the same, whereas a dynamic IP address changes every time you connect to the internet.
Your IP address reveals your location and is traceable to you. If a scammer knows your IP address, they can locate your approximate physical location. While many scams are done solely online, it’s not uncommon for scammers to attempt to collect location information on their victims to commit identity theft. Scammers can trace their victim’s BSSID (basic service set identifiers) to an approximate physical address in order to obtain asset information, mail, and other personal information.
Tracing your IP address enables scammers to put a face with a name. One way fraudsters obtain location information is through the use of malware or phishing attacks. These types of attacks allow the attacker access to any device connected to the network or computer in question. The malware allows hackers to gain remote access, giving them control over the computer or device connected to the internet.
Malware and phishing attacks are often referred to as “piggybacking” because fraudsters piggyback off another user’s internet connection without their knowledge. This allows scammers access to that person’s personal data as well as their location.
So what can you do to keep your IP address safe online?
Get a virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN (virtual private network) is a tool you can use to hide your device’s IP address when accessing the internet. The VPN hides your personally identifying information such as your IP address and personal data, providing you with an extra layer of online privacy. VPNs are widely used from big corporations to individual homes and can be obtained relatively easily. Many digital security companies offer not only device security and monitoring, but the ability to access a secure VPN with purchase.
Some cyber security companies provide a VPN for both mobile devices and computers that includes real-time anti-malware protection, Wi-Fi privacy protection, email phishing protection, password management, and more. It detects if your device is connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot or private Wi-Fi connection and automatically turns itself on if necessary.
This article touches on a myriad of important points, but the takeaway should be to get a VPN and educate yourself. Protecting your data and your identity online is crucial in today’s world, and doing so is easier than many people think. VPNs can bring you peace of mind and help keep you safe, but they are just one part of a larger security strategy. You should always approach the internet with caution, and there are several steps you should consciously take to protect both yourself and the information that you share online.