So what can people tell by looking at your IP address? That is a good question. I will go through the different ways people can try to figure out who is behind an IP address.
Before we start, I need to make sure you know that just because someone has your IP address, does not mean that they can easily figure out who you are. This is because ISPs (Internet Service Providers) keep this information confidential, and usually only law enforcement agencies (with the proper papers) can even have a chance to find out who is / was using a particular IP address.
Also, please keep in mind that many IP addresses are “shared”. There could be dozens (if not hundreds) of computers behind one IP address. So even if you found out who is in charge of an IP address, that information does not prove that the IP administrator is the same person who did something malicious. It could have been any one of those “computers” that did the malicious deed.
Here are different ways a “non-connected” (an average Internet user with no ties to any government agency) can try to figure out who you are.
This is when someone uses an online service to get the location of an IP address. One such online tool is located here: https://iplocation.com/
The problem with IP Geo-location services is that they are typically inaccurate. You never know for sure if the user is anywhere close to where these services say they are. In addition, if the user is using a VPN service, they are usually not anywhere close to the stated location anyway.
Summary: Geo-Location lookup services are typically useless to find out someone’s true location.
Reverse IP Lookup
This is when someone does a reverse lookup on an IP address to determine if there is anything identifying the user (typically a domain name that is associated with an IP address).
If someone can pair the domain name with an IP address, this might give away who is running a particular IP address.
However, this method is usually useless since most people are going to have an IP address that does not have any custom reverse lookup name. This is especially true for people using a dynamic IP address via a residential connection.
Even if you find a unique domain name being used for an IP address’ reverse name, you still would have to know who registered the domain name. Usually that information is kept private (if the user opted for domain registration privacy), and only law enforcement is allowed access to the registration info.
Summary: A reverse IP lookup usually does not provide any useful information (especially for residential IP addresses).
Being Careless Online
This is when you give out too much information about yourself on the Internet. This would make it a whole lot easier for someone who is running a website (e.g. a web forum) to know who you are, regardless of the IP address you are connecting from.
Summary: Being careless online with your information does not help you to stay anonymous.
As you can see, most (if not all) average Internet users would have a hard time trying to figure out who is behind an IP address, without someone purposely exposing information about themselves.
Therefore, unless you are doing something to attract the attention of a large, well-connected organization (e.g. a government agency) or giving out too much personal information online, you should be fine.
In addition, using a reputable VPN service will pretty much prevent any average Internet user from ever knowing your true IP address, much less your true location.
Posted in Computers, Internet and Servers, Security, VPN