What Can Someone Do With Your IP Address?

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It is hard to underestimate the efforts hackers could put in to find your IP address. They are a crucial piece of information for identifying you online. Knowing what someone can do with your IP address is a vital first step in protecting your privacy.


Awareness of what IP addresses unveil is essential for creating a safer internet for everyone. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about this topic while also helping to find your own IP address and showing how to protect it from the many prying eyes.

Table of Contents

What is an IP address?

The Internet Protocol (IP) is a set of rules governing how online data packets are formed and transmitted. It dictates that every device must have a unique address for identification purposes. So when a client device requests data, the server always knows where to send it.


That is the basic function of IP addresses, and it is accomplished by assigning a unique string of numbers and, in IPv6’s case, letters to every device connected to the internet. Whether it is a router, phone, laptop, TV, or anything else – if it is connected to the internet, it has an IP address.


There are four main types of IP addresses that we must differentiate between. 


A public IP address is assigned to your home network by an internet service provider (ISP). Its main purpose is to help you connect to devices outside your local network. Since this data has to go through a network router, the public IP is sometimes identified with the router’s IP address.


A private IP address is assigned to each device in your local network, allowing them to talk to each other. Often, they are differentiated by only a couple of digits. For example, might be assigned to your phone, while your laptop will have a new IP address ( assigned by the same router.


A dynamic IP address is one that constantly changes. A new IP address can be assigned after resetting a router or changing mobile data settings on a portable device (for example, a smartphone). Most likely, you have a dynamic IP address as it is a standard way ISPs distribute IPs.


A static IP address does not change and remains consistent over time. Most frequently, businesses or more tech-savvy individuals use them for more advanced tasks than just surfing the internet. For instance, when hosting a website or setting up remote access points.


IPv4 and IPv6 are versions of internet protocol that have changed the notation of IP addresses. IPv4 uses only numbers –, while IPv6 includes letters as well – 2001:db8::8a2e:370:7334. If you want to learn more about IPv4 and IPv6, check out our article on which is better.

How can I see my IP address?

Depending on your setup and device, the ways to see your own IP address differ. In case you are using a proxy and want to find its IP address, check out our post on how to find a proxy server address. If you aren’t changing your original IP address, follow the steps below.


For devices running Windows 8 or newer, these steps can be taken:


  1. Press the Wi-Fi or Ethernet network icon (depending on which one you use) on the right side of the taskbar.
  2. Choose the Wi-Fi or Ethernet network you are connected to.
  3. Click on Properties and look for your IP address listed as IPv4.


For systems running macOS, you should follow these steps


  1. Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner.
  2. Choose System preferences.
  3. Select Network.
  4. Choose the connection you use, for example, Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
  5. Your IP address will be listed on the right.


You might be assigned a new IP address every time you connect with mobile data, but you can find it in the same place regardless:


  1. Open the Settings menu.
  2. Select About (About phone or a similar variation in some devices).
  3. Navigate to Status (some smartphones might require you to open All Specs first)
  4. Find the IP address listed there.


Go through these steps to find your IP address on iPads and iPhones:


  1. Navigate to Settings.
  2. Select Wi-Fi.
  3. Click on the “i” icon of your network.
  4. Find your IP listed under IPv4 address.


If you are using cellular data, your device receives a new IP address every time it connects to a network. So, it is better to look for your real IP address online.

Public IP address

To find your public IP address on any of the mentioned devices, you can simply Google “What is my IP address?”. Chances are, you will find one of these websites showing your IP:


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How can someone find your IP?

There are multiple ways someone might find your IP address. Governments, advertisers, hackers, and other interested parties are constantly creating new ways to get hold of this information. Although not all of them are illicit, you should know them to protect yourself better.

HTTP requests

If you aren’t using anonymity tools, your web browser sends the IP address with every request. It is sent along with HTTP headers, which provide additional information on what data the server should send and how it must be structured. Originally, HTTP headers were meant for enabling communication and optimizing user experience.


However, these days websites often use HTTP headers to identify suspicious bot-like activity, track users, provide targeted ads, and get hold of visitors’ IP addresses. It is a common practice, as many websites would not load correctly without HTTP headers.

Government and network administrators

Since your network administrator owns the connection, he can see your IP address and use it to track your actions or restrict access to certain websites. It is typical for schools and workplaces to increase efficiency this way.


Various government institutions can contact your ISP and ask him to provide your IP address. They have a right to such information if there are suspicions of illegal activity. Your IP could be used as evidence for a fine or in a court case against you.

Free online services

While users do not pay for free online services, such as free VPNs, proxies, movie streaming platforms, or social media, they actually extract a heavy toll by intruding on your privacy. Such websites can find your IP address or even route third-party connections through your device. 


Often, these services have clauses in their Terms and Services, making them somewhat legal. If you have expressed consent for their rules, it will be hard to pursue legal action and defend your rights. It is better to avoid such services or be prepared to protect your privacy in other ways.

Through other (illegal) means

Lastly, ill-intended actors on the web might employ trickery or even illegal methods to obtain IP addresses.


  • IP grabber is software that creates a URL link, which will show the actual IP address of those who clicked on it. While generating such links is not illegal, it often involves lying about what the link actually does.
  • File sharing over social media or messaging apps is often insecure as files aren’t scanned and may include viruses. Such security threats are used to find your IP address or take over the device.
  • Torrenting is often used to send and receive large files over the internet. Using torrent clients without additional protection exposes your IP address to anyone else sharing or downloading the same files.

What can someone do with your IP?

Track your online activity

Employers, governments and ISPs use IP addresses to intrude on your privacy. Various websites do it to increase their profits through personalized online ads, adjusted pricing and product suggestions. With the help of other methods, such as third-party cookies and browser fingerprinting, websites can even share your online activity among themselves.

Learn your geo-location

It isn’t hard to know your location with your IP address. Many IP geolocation services can instantly identify your location from the numbers in the IP address alone. Most such tools are free and easy to use, but they aren’t very accurate and give only approximate information. Still, it is a worrying possibility.

Restrict access to content

Many services use IP address information to filter content according to visitors location. Video and music streaming services might not have the right to stream all content to your area while charging you the same rate as everyone else. They make the decision based on the location of your IP address.


Gaming platforms might also use geo-location data from IPs to restrict content. But they also use IP addresses to ban users for breaking the rules. Unfortunately, mistakes are often, as moderators are biased against certain players. You could avoid unwanted trouble by making your real IP address harder to find.

Find out personally identifiable information

Personally identifiable information (PII) is data used to identify you directly or together with other details. Identifiers include your name, date of birth, social security number, gender, race, and similar data. While the IP address isn’t PII, it allows fraudsters to get identifiers from third parties, such as your ISP.

Infiltrate your home network

An easily accessible IP address makes your computer network vulnerable to hacks, as it’s the first step in most techniques. For example, with your IP address, a hacker can scan for open ports to find vulnerable apps and infiltrate the network. Every device connected to your router can be affected in this way.

Perform DDoS and phishing attacks

Knowledge of your real IP address enables attacks that are not necessarily intrusive to your devices but can still cause a lot of trouble. Most notably, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks aim to bring down a server or computer network by sending it more requests than the infrastructure can handle.


Phishing attacks also become more dangerous and believable with your IP address. Fraudsters can flood the victim’s email inbox with spam warnings about allegedly suspicious activity on various services. With IP address information present, it is easier to trick the victim into following a faulty link or opening an attachment with viruses.

Identity theft

Your IP address assists fraudsters while impersonating you, which opens the possibility of gaining more personal information. The more data points they have, the better their chances of tricking various services. ISPs, government institutions, various online services, and even banks are vulnerable to such scams. It all starts with getting your IP address.

Selling your identity on the dark web

If fraudsters have enough identifiable information gathered from your real IP address, it might get sold on the dark web. Fraudsters use personal data to run scams while using your name as a cover-up. If officials were to raise allegations, you would have to defend yourself in a lengthy and expensive court battle.

Commit crimes with your device

Some crimes are based on impersonation, while others are committed by hijacking your internet connection. Some of these actions may be felonies, so you would be in a lot of trouble for having your IP address used in such crimes.

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How to protect your IP address

There are many simple security steps for lowering the risk of leaking your IP address. Adjusting your device settings to maximum privacy, using strong passwords with two-factor authentication, updating your router, and using antivirus software are only a few options.

However, none of these security measures are as effective as hiding your IP address from the websites you visit and the services you use. With the right tools, you ensure your privacy by making the process of unveiling your IP address not worth the trouble for fraudsters and marketers.


Proxies are the best intermediaries to shield your IP address from external threats. A proxy server can stand between you and the internet, routing your requests. The web server won’t be able to identify that the connection is coming from you. So locating your IP address will be nearly impossible.

There are many types of proxies created for different purposes. Datacenter proxies are by far the fastest and most versatile option. They are based in data centers with high-end equipment and a commercial connection, ensuring the highest possible speed. Datacenter IPs are created in bulk, which also makes them cheap.


Purchasing a premium proxy server means you will have one dedicated IP address or a whole pool of them at your disposal. You won’t need to share the bandwidth with anyone else, which increases the speed and security even more.


A virtual private network (VPN) is another privacy tool that can shield your IP from the internet. Just like proxies, it uses third-party servers to hide your real IP address. In addition to changing the IP, VPNs can encrypt the data and come with supplementary functions, such as malware protection.


A VPN server is better for daily use, such as watching movies or gaming. Businesses use proxies more frequently because they are easier to integrate with various tools. Tasks like web scraping, automation, and market research are hardly possible with VPNs while being much easier with proxies. However, some businesses use them for creating remote connections.


Tor browser is an open-source security solution developed to ensure anonymity and help evade internet restrictions. It works by routing every request through layers of encryption in the Tor network. Only one device has all the decryption keys, so intruding on such a computer network is extremely hard.


The downside of Tor is that even a simple request will take a long time to reach the target web server. Some websites might not even load as IPs from the Tor network might be blacklisted. Tor ensures a high level of anonymity, but it is an option only for the dedicated.


An IP address is necessary for connecting to the internet but keeping it easily accessible involves many risks. Hiding it is the only sure way to protect yourself from hacking, geo-restrictions, targeted ads, and risks of identity theft. Investing into proxies is the best measure against these threats.

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