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Meet Your Online Identity: Internet Protocol (IP)

We know where you’ve been. But, we don’t have to. Protect yourself online at all times.

By Sam Writes SecurityPublished 3 years ago 4 min read
Meet Your Online Identity: Internet Protocol (IP)
Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash

IP is short for internet protocol, this is how we know that you shop online and watch all kinds of videos on YouTube. So how do we know what you do online exactly? Let's start with what helps us figure out what you do then we’ll talk about how we figure this out how’s that?

What is an IP address?

Every device needs an IP address that’s how devices communicate online. An IP is an identifying number that your phone and computer have. Within a network, devices are attributed an IP address and that’s one way you can tell them apart. Another way would be through a Mac address because just like IP addresses devices have individual mac addresses too.

But, I’ve just said that devices are attributed an IP address within a network even though these devices supposedly have an IP address already, so how does that work?

Different Types Of IP Addresses

While all IP addresses are made up of numbers and letters (IPv4 and IPv6) not all IP addresses are used for the exact same purpose which is why now we’ll be looking at these differences. With the help of Wikipedia I hope you caught up with the evolution of IP addresses.

Private IP Address: I mentioned that devices are attributed an IP address which is how you can tell one device from another within a network remember that? Great! That’s what private IP addresses are used for, communication within a network from the router to the connected devices be it wireless or wired. There’s obviously more to it but, this should help you understand how things work at least, believe me you can do a whole lot more.

Public IP address: These are public (for everyone to see, at least for those who are looking). Public IP addresses are used outside a network. It’s using public IP addresses that our devices communicate on the internet, the theory is always the same this is how we can tell one device from another although things can be a bit more tricky this time around.

If your device is within a network and you know the IP of each computer in it then you can tell which one is which, right? With a public IP that is also possible but the easiest things to figure out are location, at least the country and if we dig deep enough we can figure out the internet provider, the city etc.

But, bare in mind databases can map your physical location too.

Do you want to know what your public IP is Google it, I did. See below:

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But I wasn’t entirely satisfied I used a website for more info see as shown below:

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Here we get to see the IP address, the service provider, country and state. Isn’t that scary?

But that isn’t all, did you know that websites also get to know your Operation System, the browser and screen resolution? Now it’s creepy right?

Use this website for info about your screen resolution if you didn’t know.

To find out what your private IP is on windows:

Press the window key on your keyboard

author screenshot

After the menu shows up (guess we can call it that) type in “cmd”

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Press enter that will give you access to the command line interface type in “ipconfig” you’ll have the chance to see what your ip address is just make sure you don’t share it around it’s private for a reason.

On Linux/unix open up your command line instead of ipconfig use “ifconfig”. Depending on how much you can do on your system you might need to use *sudo* before the IP command.

Either one of the types of IP addresses here mentioned can be dynamic or static. This of course differentiates from the changing and non changing IP addresses. This won’t make you an Internet genius but it’s a start. Now, we can answer the question “ how we know what you do online?”. Let’s do this!

Now, what you should understand is that we’re not talking about anything illegal we’re going to take a look at how we can find out what you do without having to do much and I’ll also mention who usually gets to see this. I’m putting this first because there are more ways to track someone’s movements or devices for that matter and hackers manage to do that very well.

Tracking ID’s

Websites use unique ID’s in cookies that help identify you the next time you pay a visit. Cookies also help advertising networks connect you as you browse the Internet.

Location Services

Is it possible to use mapping services without a precise location? Some apps need our location to function properly this is another way people get to know of our location. Where we are can lead to what we’re doing.

IP Addresses

Blogs, company websites we visit online, search engines and YouTube know what you’re doing. If you’re watch a video on YouTube then we can assume that Google knows what you’re doing so it’s easy for them to show you ads of things you’d be interested on because they already know. Besides cookies and everything I’ve already mentioned IP Addresses are very responsible for this.

An IP lists where your device lives on the Internet they can also help companies determine who you are and connect devices you use online too. databases can map IP addresses to a physical location.

One of the many ways to protect ourselves is by using anonymity services, these services help because we usually get a new identity and a new location so we appear to be someone else. If you wear a mask every time you show up keeping track of who you are isn’t easy.

This story was previously published on Medium https://samwritessecurity.medium.com/meet-your-online-identity-internet-protocol-ip-b7ad306667a5


About the Creator

Sam Writes Security

Writer | Cyber Security Enthusiast


"[email protected]"

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