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What Can Someone Do With Your IP Address? 10 Risks To Know

Your IP address can give hackers access to sensitive device and location info that they can use to tailor personalized phishing attacks and scam you.

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      How Dangerous Is It If Hackers Have Your IP Address?

      Knowing your IP address isn’t enough to give hackers access to your device or private accounts — but it can make you an easier target for their scams.

      Hackers can use your IP address to trick you into visiting spoofed websites, downloading malware, or giving up sensitive login credentials.

      Keeping your digital information private — including your IP address — is one of the best ways to prevent scams and fraud. 

      In this guide, we’ll explain what scammers can do with your IP address, how to protect yours from prying eyes, and how to change or hide your IP address if it has been compromised. 

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      What Is an IP Address? How Can Someone Find Your IP?

      An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique string of numbers that identifies basic information about the device you’re using to access the internet. The use of public IP addresses is an essential part of the internet and allows you to connect and receive data from other networks and websites. 

      You can think of an IP address as a similar identifier to your home’s postal address — in order to receive mail, senders need to know some basic information about where you live. Unfortunately, your IP address can be abused in many of the same ways as your home address. 

      For example, almost every website logs your IP address when you visit it (along with other information in your digital footprint). At a minimum, this allows advertisers to target you with ads specific to your location or browsing history — but fraudsters can also use this information to craft believable stories and trick you into trusting them.

      Here are some of the ways you might reveal your IP address to a scammer:

      • Engaging with online ads or pop-ups. Whenever you click on a digital ad, it records your IP address. Advertisers do this to learn about your preferences, but scammers can use that information to find opportunities to trick you.
      • Visiting malicious websites. Almost every website you visit logs your IP address. While legitimate sites secure your data and avoid using it, malicious ones use your data to find information they can use against you.
      • Opening spam emails. Even just opening a spam email can send scammers information about your device, including your IP address.
      • Clicking on phishing links. Fraudsters use social engineering tactics — such as fake emails, texts, or messages — to compel you to click on malicious links that provide them with your IP address, as well as other sensitive and private information.
      • Filling in online forms. Social media surveys and interactive forms can capture your IP address along with the responses you send. Even seemingly harmless online quizzes can capture your information this way.
      • Using free or fake Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi is remarkably easy to spoof. If you connect to a fake Wi-Fi network, it will share all of your device data (including your IP address) with the hacker who set it up.
      • Posting on certain forums. Many online forums and chat applications collect IP information from users. This helps them track and block problematic users, but they may also share this information with other third parties.
      • Torrenting files (P2P). If you use torrent apps to download media and software, the app will share your IP address with every other user in the community. Most users ignore this information, but scammers and fraudsters may choose to use it.
      • Giving up access to your device. If someone has physical access to your computer or phone, they may be able to discover your IP address. Since the address is linked to the device and the network it’s on, anyone using your phone could make it look like you visited certain sites or used certain apps.

      How do you know if your IP address was hacked? If you think scammers have your IP address, you’ll want to look for common signs indicating that you’ve been hacked or your identity has been stolen. 

      For example, you may start encountering traffic redirects (ending up on a website you didn’t search for), non-stop pop-ups ads, malware, account takeovers, slow or unstable internet access, data breach notifications, and more. 

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      How To Protect Your IP Address With a VPN

      The easiest way to protect your IP address is to use a virtual private network or VPN. This software encrypts the connection between your device and other websites, users, and networks — making it almost impossible to learn your IP address. 

      Without a VPN, your device broadcasts its IP address to every other device it connects to online. The VPN acts as a proxy server, putting a layer of security between your device and the rest of the internet. When you connect to a website or application through a VPN, you broadcast the VPN provider’s IP address instead of your real IP address.

      There are many different VPN providers on the market, including a wide range of free VPNs. But always be careful when using free VPN services online. Just like spoofed public Wi-Fi, there may be someone behind the free VPN collecting the data you entrust to them. 

      If you plan on using a VPN, stick with premium VPN services backed by reputable companies that you trust. 

      🛡 Get cybersecurity protection you can count on. Aura’s #1-rated cybersecurity platform includes a military-grade VPN, powerful antivirus software, award-winning identity theft and fraud protection, and more. Try Aura for free today.

      What Can Scammers Do With Your IP Address?

      1. Find out where you live
      2. Track your online activity
      3. Send you personalized spam and scam messages
      4. Impersonate your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
      5. Restrict the online content you can access
      6. Find vulnerabilities that let them break into your devices
      7. Spoof your ID to perform illegal activities
      8. Reroute traffic through your devices (DDoS attacks)
      9. Get you banned from websites and online games
      10. Sell your IP address on the Dark Web

      If hackers find out your IP address, they won’t immediately be able to infiltrate your accounts or steal your identity. However, they can use it to learn more about you and target you with more sophisticated scams.

      Here’s what scammers can do with your IP address:

      1. Find out where you live

      The information found in your IP address isn’t specific enough to tell hackers exactly where you live, but it can help them find out your location

      Most IP addresses provide limited geographical information, like the city or general region the connection is coming from. If hackers know your name and the city you live in, they could track you through local listings and other public data sources.

      With your home address, scammers can:

      • Reroute your sensitive mail by using a change-of-address scam. Fraudsters only need your name and address to reroute mail to a mailbox they own or control. A change-of-address scam can give criminals access to your credit card and bank statements or other sensitive information sent in the mail. 
      • Stalk you in person or break into your home. If cybercriminals are tracking your online behavior, they might be able to time their burglary and strike when you’re not at home.
      ⚡️ Find out fast if hackers have your IP address. Aura monitors your most sensitive information — including up to 10 IP addresses — and alerts you in near real-time if it’s been leaked or exposed online. Try Aura for free.

      2. Track your online activity

      Most devices publicly broadcast their IP address to any device that requests it (known as a “ping”). If hackers know your IP address, they may be able to track your online activity across multiple websites and applications and learn about your preferences, browsing habits, and buying history. 

      This information can be used to target you with more customized phishing attacks — such as fake emails claiming to be from websites you frequently visit or malicious ads for products you’ve bought in the past. 

      💡 Related: How To Remove Your Personal Information From the Internet

      3. Send you personalized spam and scam messages

      Your IP address contains information about your location, and it can also reveal the device you use to connect to the internet. A scammer could use this to create personalized and more credible phishing messages.

      With your IP address, scammers can:

      • Impersonate local authorities. A hacker could send you a text message telling you that the local police in your jurisdiction are looking for you. They could even program the message to change when you travel between different regions.
      • Run tech support scams. Scammers might tell you that your iPhone or Android device is compromised and needs to be fixed right away. Your IP address will tell them exactly what model phone you use, making their story more believable.

      4. Impersonate your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

      Your IP address may reveal what ISP you use to connect to the internet. Fraudsters can use this information to trick you into giving up sensitive data about yourself. All they have to do is impersonate your ISP.

      This usually involves running some kind of tech support scam. Scammers may send you SMS messages telling you that your bill is late, and demand that you call them on a fake phone line. Since they may know your name and address, they could even impersonate utility employees installing telecom infrastructure in your home or office.

      💡 Related: How To Spot the Latest Geek Squad Scams

      5. Restrict the online content you can access

      Most websites and media platforms rely on IP addresses to allow or block users. For example, online services like Netflix use your IP address to show you content that’s only available in your location. 

      If hackers have your IP address, they may add it to block lists for websites and services — severely limiting what you can access online. 

      Pro tip: VPNs can give you access to content from your home country while traveling (or from any other location). Most VPN providers allow you to switch to a different IP that makes online services believe you’re in a country or location other than the one you’re currently in. 

      6. Find vulnerabilities that let them break into your devices

      Websites and online services use what’s called transmission control protocol (TCP) requests to send data to your device. 

      With your IP address, hackers can send small, harmless TCP requests to your device’s open ports. Over time, these requests can give scammers insight into your device and network, such as your operating system — along with technical vulnerabilities that they could exploit.

      This is called IP reconnaissance, and is a well-known starting point for professional hackers and penetration testers. 

      💡 Related: How Hackers Get Into Your Computer (and How To Stop Them)

      7. Spoof your ID to perform illegal activities

      IP spoofing is a type of cyberattack in which hackers make their device traffic look like it came from another device — in this case, yours. 

      This allows them to frame you for anything they do online, including criminal acts like hacking into other peoples’ accounts or even breaking into government organizations. If authorities launch an investigation, they will come to you looking for answers.

      8. Reroute traffic through your devices (DDoS attacks)

      Hackers with access to your IP address may be able to route web traffic through your device, using some of its computing resources to make requests of other devices on the internet. If they do this with an enormous number of devices at the same time, they can conduct what’s called a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

      A DDoS attack leverages a large number of devices to send an overwhelming number of requests to a single target. The target device can’t keep up with all the requests, so it shuts down. If your device is compromised, you might never even know it’s being used to launch DDoS attacks.

      💡 Related: The 21 Latest Emerging Cyber Threats and Attacks

      9. Get you banned from websites and applications

      In this scenario, hackers spoof your IP address and use it to behave in ways that violate the terms and conditions of websites or applications that you use. This leads to you being banned from using them. 

      This kind of attack is common among cyberbullies who harass people playing online games, but it can be used in any context. If hackers spoof your IP address, they could get you blocked by government agencies, law enforcement services, and even financial institutions. You would not be able to access these websites and applications without a VPN.

      💡 Related: 7 Ways Your Digital Footprint Puts You at Risk (and What To Do)

      10. Sell your IP address on the Dark Web

      The Dark Web is a part of the internet only accessible through special anonymous web browsers (such as the Tor browser). Because the Dark Web keeps users’ identities private, it’s a popular place for cybercriminals to buy and sell stolen goods and data. 

      If your personal information is leaked in a data breach — including your IP address, phone number, or Social Security number (SSN) — there is a good chance it will end up for sale on a Dark Web server sooner or later. Hackers who specialize in collecting IP addresses may sell them to others who want to focus on running scams or conducting phishing attacks.

      🏆 Protect your IP, devices, and data from hackers — for free. Aura’s award-winning digital security solution includes a military-grade virtual private network (VPN) to keep your data, devices, and IP safe from hackers. Try Aura free for 14 days and safeguard your digital identity.

      How To Change Your IP Address If You Think It Was Compromised

      While you can’t stop someone from using your IP address once they have it, you can change it. 

      The process of changing your IP address will be different for every device on your network, but it’s usually a simple task. You may have to type in a new IP address, but you can easily make a valid one by changing the last number of your previous IP address. For example, if your IP address was 188-24-131-205, you might choose 188-24-131-204 as your new one. 

      If you don’t know your IP address, you can check it on WhatIsMyIPAddress.com

      Be aware that not all ISPs will allow you to set your own IP address. If changing the address cuts off your internet connection, contact your ISP to help resolve the issue and assign you a static IP.

      Here are some of the most common ways to change your IP address: 

      On your home router

      Most home routers automatically assign IP addresses using something called the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Your router’s user manual will tell you if it supports this internet protocol. 

      If it does, then you can reset all of your IP addresses simply by unplugging your router for at least five minutes and plugging it back in. Your router will assign a new IP address to each device on your network.

      💡 Related: How To Delete Your Digital Footprint

      Using a VPN

      If you use a VPN, you can change your IP address by selecting a new server in your VPN settings. Most VPNs can also change the country through which you wish to route your traffic, allowing you to make it look like you’re physically located in that country.

      If you are using a high-quality VPN and your IP address gets blocked, your VPN provider should automatically provide you with a new one. Some VPNs require you to request a new dynamic IP address manually, but it should only take a few seconds.

      Windows 11

      • Go to Start, select Settings, and click on Network & Internet.
      • Select Ethernet or Wi-Fi, depending on your connection type.
      • Click on Manage and navigate to IP Assignment. Click on Manage.
      • You will see Automatic (DHCP) and Manual. Select Manual. 
      • Enable IPv4. You should see three boxes titled IP Address, Subnet Mask, and Gateway.
      • Type in a new IP address.

      MacOS

      • Open System Preferences and select Network Connection.
      • Configure IPv4 and select Manually.
      • Type in a new IP address. 

      Android

      • Go to Settings and select Connections.
      • Tap on Wi-Fi and then the settings icon next to your current network.
      • Go to IP Settings and select Static.
      • Type in your new IP address.

      iOS

      • Open Settings.
      • Select Wi-Fi and navigate to Network.
      • Select IPv4 address and tap on Configure IP.
      • Type in a new IP address.

      Changing your IP address will stop scammers from taking advantage of it, but this won’t prevent them from trying to learn your new address and use it against you. Only a VPN can reliably keep your IP address hidden from scammers. You can try Aura’s award-winning digital security platform — which includes a military-grade VPN — free for 14 days.

      How To Protect Yourself from Hackers and Cybercriminals

      The FBI receives more than 2,100 complaints about cybercrime and hacking every single day [*]. 

      While your IP address is not the most sensitive piece of information you can give away, it can still put you and your family at risk. 

      Here are a few ways you can keep your IP address (and the rest of your digital footprint) safe:

      • Use a virtual private network (VPN) whenever possible. A VPN is the most reliable way to mask your IP address from hackers and scammers. You should always use one when connecting to public Wi-Fi, and it’s good practice to use one at home, too.
      • Switch to mobile data. Unlike public Wi-Fi, your mobile data connection is very resistant to interference. If you use mobile data out in public, hackers will not be able to intercept your traffic or learn your login credentials.
      • Secure your online accounts with strong and unique passwords. Every account you use should have a strong and secure password, and never reuse passwords between accounts.
      • Store your passwords and sensitive files in a password manager. If memorizing passwords is too much work, you can always store them in a secure password manager that automatically grants you access to your accounts and applications.
      • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Even if you have strong passwords, they should not be your only source of account security. Two-factor authentication protects your accounts by requiring an additional form of verification before allowing access.
      • Don’t click on links in suspicious emails, text messages, or social media DMs. Any link you receive could potentially share your IP address with a hacker, who will then come up with other ways to target you with scams.
      • Keep your software updated, and enable auto-updates. Keep your devices protected against the latest threats by installing new updates the moment they are published.
      • Update your social media privacy settings. Oversharing on social media can put you at risk. Take down any information about yourself that you wouldn’t want a scammer knowing. Change your privacy settings to avoid displaying public posts.

      Finally, for comprehensive protection, consider signing up for Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution. 

      Aura helps shield your devices, data, and identity from hackers with a military-grade VPN, powerful scam blocking and Safe Browsing tools, a robust password manager, and more. With Aura, you also get award-winning identity theft and fraud protection, 24/7 White Glove Fraud Resolution support, and a $1 million identity theft insurance policy for every adult on your plan.

      Keep your IP, devices, and data safe from hackers. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you to increase awareness about digital safety. Aura’s services may not provide the exact features we write about, nor may cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat discussed in our articles. Please review our Terms during enrollment or setup for more information. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime.

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