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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi

I'm not very bright when it comes to computer technology and such but I have a question about how IP trackers work. I tried to get the information on the net, but I don't think the info that they gave me was sufficient enough.

If someone has my IP address can they somehow figure out who the computer I am using is registered to or do they simply know the location of the computer-or both? What do IP trackers really tell you?

Any information you could give me would be really appreciated.

Thanks
 
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How much info someone can get from it depends on your ISP. AOL for example pools all IPs in the U.S., so that given an AOL IP I can only tell that the person uses AOL. (A nasty side effect of this is that in order to IP ban an AOLer, I have to IP ban every AOL customer in the country.) Most ISPs, though, can be traced to a particular city. This city is typically the nearest big city to you -- my IP traces to Sacramento, for example, even though I don't live quite in Sacramento myself.

As a forum admin, I use IPs to get an idea of whether it's likely that two members are the same person. If something has caused me to be suspicious, finding that they have the same ISP is a good clue. Finding that they live in the same city is a better clue. An exact IP match is the best clue, but in a case like AOL it can still be a false alarm. (Of course there are undetectable things also like the possibility that the two members are brothers posting from the same computer.)

To see what can be determined from your own IP, first find what your IP is ( http://www.whatismyip.com ) and then type it in the 'city from IP' box at http://www.dnsstuff.com .

Sometimes when that fails the host name is still useful. Here's a simple page for getting a host name: http://home.xnet.com/~efflandt/ip2host.html .My host name is adsl-68-123-103-180.dsl.scrm01.pacbell.net . You can guess that the scrm in there stands for Sacramento (since I have host name resolution built into my forum script, I like to guess based on that to save the time of having to do a city lookup). You can also tell that I have a DSL connection, and that's it's from Pacific Bell / SBC, not that it's very interesting to know that.

Only the ISP knows the name and address of the person using an IP. Note that if you do something illegal online the police could go to your ISP and demand access to the IP logs which should be able to determine your name and address based on the IP you used at a particular time. The RIAA and MPAA have been known to do that as well in their efforts to sue pirates (I believe the law is a little sketchier on whether your ISP is obligated to help them out, but they usually will).

If you have a static IP, then knowing it would theoretically allow someone with a strong personal grudge against you to attempt an attack on your computer, if your computer is hackable. Most people, however, have dynamic IPs that change such that the IP you had yesterday is being used by someone else today... any attack on it would thus have to be swift.

Normally, any website you visit knows your IP. You can use a proxy to hide it, but you really shouldn't. In general there's nothing wrong with your IP being known. Revealing that my current one is 68.123.103.180 isn't going to cause me any harm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. That was very detailed and helpful. Just what I was looking for.

Cheers!
 

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Not whenever they want to, only when they can show that the IP they're inquiring about has done something illegal. Privacy has never applied when you break the law. (You needn't worry though, your odds of being one of their select cases are pretty small.)
 
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