Internet Protocol, also known as the IP address, is your digital identity on the internet. All the traffic to and from your device is maintained with the help of your IP address. An IP address is just like your house address and is unique for each device.
The most popular type IP is IPv4 but IPv6 is fast catching up and will soon become a standard norm.
There are over four billion IP addresses in the IPv4 protocol. Of these, almost 600 million are reserved and cannot be used for public routing. The rest are allocated to countries by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) via the regional Internet registries (RIRs). The United States alone accounts for 35% of the total number of IPv4 addresses.
You may think it’s quite harmless if someone knows your IP address, but in reality, it can be very dangerous. Below are five ways people can access your IP address.
- Someone borrows your computer/laptop
If somebody uses or borrows your computer, they can find out your IP address simply by searching “what’s my IP address,” and it pops right up.
- From your email
Some small Internet Service Providers or people who set up their own email server might still reveal their IP address.
- Social media
Social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.) do not reveal IP addresses between users, but the site administrators know your IP address. Also, if you click on an ad or link on the site, they will capture your IP address.
- Your home wireless network
If your home network isn’t well secured, a stranger can tap into your wireless network. Also, if you let family/friends/guests use your network (you provide the password), they will know your IP address.
- From web servers
Every time you visit a website, you leave your IP address. After all, it’s your digital pass to connect online. A website can (if they wish) scour their Web-server computers to review all the IP addresses, just to see the reach of their message or who’s a repeat visitor.
Ways to protect IP address from hackers
- Change your privacy settings.
Keep your privacy settings ‘Private’ for all your apps and avoid receiving calls from unknown caller IDs. This will create a safety barrier, and hackers won’t get easy access to your IP address.
- Use a dynamic IP address.
A dynamic IP address keeps on changing all the time and is a tough target for hackers.
- Secure your router.
It is essential to install firewall and antivirus software on your routers and keep them up-to-date.
- Use strong passwords.
Default passwords are the easiest to decode and are more vulnerable to theft than customized ones. It is recommended to keep changing your device password every few months.
- Ignore spam.
Beware of email messages from unknown parties, and never click on links or open attachments that accompany them. Inbox spam filters have gotten pretty good at catching the most conspicuous spam.