On the Internet we feel that we are anonymous, especially when we write in forums or in various comments. But if we do commit a crime, it is only a matter of time before we see the authorities at our door through our web hosting provider. In the following guide we will see exactly how IP tracking works, how we can exploit it, and how our email can help find the IP for any sender.
When we hear that the police or the FBI located and arrested someone through their IP, we may imagine that the IP address immediately betrays the person who uses it.
However, things are quite different. IP addresses connect directly to networking devices, such as routers, not to specific people or addresses. Therefore, IP tracking can only reveal which geographical area we are in. It does not automatically reveal the name and address of our home.
When we visit a site, our network sends us an information packet that includes the IP address and port number. Then the server hosting the site accepts the package, knows which network is requesting access, and that our IP has visited it.
At the same time, our visit is known to the internet service provider (ISP) who also keeps a file. In most cases, that is where the formal monitoring of who owns the IP stops.
Thus, a random person who knows our IP and is interested in our history, is not able to find out about our internet activity. Of course, not even the sites we have visited.
In addition, as we explain below, it is not easy for anyone who knows our IP to use it maliciously and find out exactly where we live. Especially if we are connected to a public space, and we use the IP of a store.
Of course, if we are careless and do not use good security software, we may be “planted” unknowingly by a trojan. But in this case, it is more likely that IP is not the main reason for the intrusion. Usually, this is the last thing they want.
How IP is detected
So, we may be wondering how IP tracking can reveal our true identity and home address. Fortunately, things are not so simple, even for the authorities.
To overcome this hurdle, law enforcement agencies must first identify which ISP owns this IP. The external IP we have when browsing the internet is not registered with us. It is registered with our Internet service provider.
This means that the IP-based search will retrieve the details of the provider to which it belongs. In this example, Cosmote, as shown by making a simple whois on IP.
Can I find out where someone lives from their IP?
As far as the provider is concerned, he has detailed information for each user, such as name, phone number, billing address, ID number, VAT number, etc.
Even if in the meantime the user’s IP has changed, the web hosting provider keeps detailed logs of which user had a specific IP and when.
Thus, when an illegal action has been taken to justify it, the prosecutor (or the relevant judicial authority) gives an order obliging the provider to provide this information to the authorities.
But since we are not illegal in any way, the provider will never disclose our details, and the details of one of its subscribers in general.
Therefore, it is impossible to find the home address of someone with a unique IP address. Perhaps the exception is the case in which we somehow have access to the ISP files.
In some very rare cases, an IP address may be registered to a natural person, and IP detection may lead to his home address.
But this is usually done in small countries that are not very developed or in countries where relatively few people have access to the Internet. Certainly not in Greece.
What if the IP is anonymous?
Most of us know that a VPN, or Proxy Server, can hide the real IP. Therefore, with this method we assume that the IP find will have no effect. In other words, we believe that the authorities can not find us.
The point is that if we connect from our home to the VPN, then the VPN knows our real IP. Therefore, instead of the police going to the provider, they go to the company that has the VPN server or the Proxy Server. Requires a prosecutor / court order to show which real IP was connected at a particular time. Then they go to the ISP, and finally…
Essentially, that is, the only difficulty added is a few extra steps of bureaucracy. The most efficient method of anonymity is probably the Tor network, but even this may not be 100% anonymous.
So how do some hackers get caught?
A hacker does not have to be a genius to hide 100% of his traces. The simplest method is to never do something illegal from his home or from a place where they can associate it with him (e.g work).
If, for example, he goes to an area far from where he lives, and finds an unlocked wireless network, or a WiFi that can be broken in a few minutes, he can do whatever he wants, and the unfortunate user to whom the connection.
It is easy to understand that this is one of the reasons why we never leave our WiFi unlocked.
As mentioned at the beginning, other hackers may have installed a Trojan on an unsuspecting user’s machine, and may be able to remotely control it. Therefore, through it to do their job.
There are reports in which the computer laboratories of universities and TEI in Greece have been used for DDoS type electronic attacks.
If you think that this could be done in an Internet Cafe, the main disadvantage is that all Internet Cafe have cameras.
Again, however, with only the face of a suspect, without other evidence, it is not the easiest thing in the world to find out who he is, if he is not marked.
Surely there are other methods of anonymity that are effective and make it difficult to find IP. However, the above are enough to make it very, very difficult, if not impossible, to locate a hacker.
How do I find someone’s IP
There are dozens of websites on the internet that are dedicated to Reverse IP Lookup. We give them an IP address and they return the exact address of the one to whom it belongs.