What Can Someone Do With Your IP Address?

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Jalluri Sirisha
Written by
Jalluri Sirisha

Updated · Nov 16, 2023

Jalluri Sirisha
Computer Networks Expert, VPN Expert | Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Jalluri Sirisha

Sirisha is a networking enthusiast with a bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering. She... | See full bio

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Girlie Defensor
Joined June 2023
Girlie Defensor

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An IP address is equivalent to your device’s address on the Internet. Your service provider knows it. Google, digital advertisers, and even your employer know it as well. 

However, an IP address is more than a simple set of numbers used to locate your device. Once it falls into the wrong hands, it can be a key to unraveling more information about you. 

Read on to find out why revealing your IP address might pose a real danger to your online privacy. 

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • An IP address is a virtual home address for your device on the internet, essential for website interaction.
  • Safeguard your external IP, as it can be easily acquired by malicious actors for harmful purposes.
  • Hackers gaining access to your IP can sell it on the dark web, impersonate you, or launch DDoS attacks.
  • Use a VPN, reset your IP, update your firewall and router, and exercise caution online to protect your IP and enhance privacy.
  • A VPN can encrypt internet traffic and add an extra layer of security to online activities, protecting your IP.

Defining IP Addresses

An IP address is like a virtual home address for your device. It is expressed in numbers because that is the language computers understand.

A regular IP address looks somewhat like this:

Regular users like you don’t need to know what each number means. However, it is important to have a basic idea of what an IP address is. 

Take the explanation for internal and external IPs for a start.

  • Internal (or private) IPs are meant to identify different devices connected to the same network. They’re not visible to someone outside of that network and are there for personal use. 
  • External (or public) IP addresses derive from your internet router. If several devices are connected to it, their external addresses are identical. 

If you’re using two laptops and connect them to the same Wi-Fi hotspot, the laptops’ IP addresses will be the same.

Between the two, it’s the external IP address that you should protect the most. It is easily acquired by malicious people.

To better understand why you should keep your  IP address protected, you should know what it does and why it exists. Read on. 

What IP Addresses Do

Even though an IP address seems like a bunch of numbers you do not understand, it is a vital piece of information that must be kept hidden and protected at all times.

Your IP address makes your browsing experience happen. To better understand that, below are some of the things that your IP address can do:

Transfer data

Every time you visit a website, you send a request to access the content. The site replies by sending you the content you’re asking for. 

This is how the web works—and your IP address plays a pivotal role in this process.

Despite 5.16 billion Internet users, a website sees your IP address and knows where the request comes from and which device to send it to. 

With your IP, you can interact with websites and various online services.

Identify you and your devices

Some services like digital banking platforms and online forums need to know who’s connecting to their website. That’s a fair request by all law practices if done with the user’s consent. 

Usually, this happens with sites that have Terms & Conditions that you must read and accept before using a service.

If you work on an office device or sign in to a social media account, the service must know your IP address. They want to verify whether it is you signing in and not some malicious actor from another side of the world. 

That is why when you use a VPN, you might be asked to verify your identity since your IP has changed—matching the VPN server you’re using.

✅ Pro Tip

Services like digital banks or closed internal company accounts do not like IP rotation. This is common with most VPN services. 

If this happens, the best workaround is to get a constant IP that still works like a VPN. This is possible with Dedicated IP.

What Can Your ISP, Employer, or Digital Service Provider Do With Your IP Address?

Even if an IP address is sensitive data, there are a handful of people legally allowed to see and use it for specific purposes. 

These people are your Internet Service Provider (ISP), employer, and Digitial Service Provider. They use your IP address to:

Things selected people or groups can do with your IP

  • Monitor your geographical location: Your IP helps them see if you are eligible to access the service based on their terms, conditions, and current location.
  • Prevent or ban you from using certain services: If you’re not compliant with a site’s terms and conditions, those with access to your IP can restrain your access or kick you out of the forum, game, service, or device. 
  • Track your activity: This is usually in workplace settings. It happens when you’re connected to the work network. An employer is likely doing it for precautions over company-wide security risks. 

All activities above are considered a low threat to your privacy, although they may feel intrusive and uncomfortable. 

On a more serious note, you should know what happens when people with malicious intent uncover your IP address and how they get it. Continue reading to find out. 

How Hackers Obtain Your IP Address

The Internet was not made for privacy. Even if you think you’re being as private as possible, your ISP, employers, and more can see every click you make. 

However, the real danger lies in what happens when a piece of sensitive information like your IP address falls into the hands of cybercriminals. 

You should know that hackers can easily get your IP address by:

1. Email: Hackers pretend to be from a legitimate service provider or a popular service like Gmail, Spotify, or YouTube. 

They claim there’s a problem with your account and ask you to respond over email. If you give in to the trick, hackers can see your IP as soon as you send an email. 

Hackers can find your IP in the header if you’re using Yahoo Mail or Microsoft Outlook. For Gmail, hackers use an email analyzer and fetch the IP by viewing the email source code. 

Finding IP in Outlook 

2. Your computer: Avoid lending a device to a stranger, friend, or colleague. They can quickly discover your IP on the device settings.

Here’s how anyone can check your IP on different operating systems:


  1. Click the Apple Menu;
  2. Choose System Preferences;
  3. In the View menu, click on Network;
  4. Select Wi-Fi or Ethernet from the left column;

For Ethernet, the IP address is in the middle of the page. With Wi-Fi, click Advanced>TCP/IP. Your IP address is listed under IPv4.


  1. Right-click the Windows icon;
  2. Go to Network and Internet;
  3. Depending on your connection type, select Wi-Fi or Ethernet;
  4. Click on Network in the center column;
  5. Your IP address will be displayed under IPv4

You can also do this on mobile devices. Below are the steps you can take: 


  1. Open the Settings app;
  2. Choose Wi-Fi;
  3. Select the network you're connected to;
  4. Your IP address will appear at the top of the screen.


  1. Open the Settings menu;
  2. Select About;
  3. Tap on Status;
  4. Your IP address will be displayed in the list.

3. Malicious online ads: Hackers can get your IP address if you click on the malicious ads scattered over the web. 

One wrong click might lead you to a fake website meant to collect both your IP address and some of your private logins. 

🔓 Security Note

Malicious ads are more common now than years ago. That’s because over 90% of spending on digital display ads cycles through automated software. 

This means that the ads that reach displays are no more overseen by human beings, so the security barrier is lower than ever. Beware and check ads thoroughly before clicking on any of them.

4. Links on online forums: Forums like Reddit are a great place for anonymous online discussions. 

However, anonymity is not always beneficial. Reddit is not safe from scams. Beware of clicking links that may lead to malicious pages or bizarre surveys. 

5. Online forms: You might come across a seemingly innocent survey. However, be careful and check if it explains how your data will be collected. 

If not, sharpen your eagle eye for scams. Verify if you can trust the survey organizer to handle your data and answers. Check if they provided legitimate contacts. 

Sample online form6. Links on online forums: Forums like Reddit are a great place for anonymous online discussions. 

However, anonymity is not always beneficial. Reddit is not safe from scams. Beware of clicking links that may lead to malicious pages or bizarre surveys. 

7. Fake Wi-Fi hotspots: Hackers set up Wi-Fi spots that resemble legitimate public ones. They try to steal your personal information and get your IP this way. 

8. Phishing emails: If you get hooked on a phishing link or respond to a phishing message or email, the hacker can collect your IP address. 

Sample phishing email

Things Hackers Can Do With IP Addresses

Once your IP address falls into the wrong, people can do many things with it. Some of the things that a hacker can do with your IP address are:

  • Sell it on the dark web

A single IP address is not worth much, but a hacker finds a way to get more of your personal data. 

The value of stolen information increases immediately because it can be used for different criminal activities like impersonation or identity theft. 

  • Uncover personal information

Hackers are not able to gain access to personal info with your IP alone. 

If they find out who your ISP is from your IP, they could plan a phishing attack. They can acquire personal log-ins by impersonating your ISP.

  • Track your activity

Scammers can’t track your activity if they get a hold of your home IP. However, they can do it if you fall for any type of phishing attack. 

🔓 Security Note

Beware of any email or content that looks like phishing, especially if you live in an area where scams are prevalent. 

Find out how vulnerable your country is by checking the Global Data Breach Stats.

  • Frame you for their crimes 

If a scammer manages to re-wire their activities to your IP, they can do malicious activities without ever revealing their own location or IP. 

This is possible through different methods like setting up your device as a proxy server or infecting your device with malware and adding your IP address to the botnet—a network of compromised devices.

However, note that the hacker needs to have control of your device before they can manipulate your IP for malicious purposes.

  • Impersonate you for malign objectives

The creativity of hackers should not be underestimated. If they acquire your IP, they can set up fake websites to replace your websites. 

This is something that small to medium-scale businesses should be cautious of. Scammers can acquire your clients’ data using the fake website. 

To avoid this, always be on the lookout for impersonator websites that has your details.

  • Execute a DoS or DDoS attack

If hackers know your IP, they can trigger a DoS (Denial of Service) or a DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attack against your device or website. 

How a DDoS attack looks on a server

These attacks flood the designated IP with requests, and your device or website might not be able to function normally.

Protect Your IP From Hackers

To prevent the situations mentioned above from happening, protecting your IP address is a must. There are a bunch of ways to do that. 

Some of the methods to keep your devices from being invaded are:

1. Reset your IP address 

If you think someone can access your IP address, change it immediately. 

You can do that by unplugging your router for several minutes and then plugging it back. Your IP address will be different after each reset.

Alternatively, you can change your IP address manually on Android or iPhone. Here’s how:


1. Go to Settings

2. Tap on Wi-Fi or Connections (depending on your device).

3. Long-press on the Wi-Fi network you are connected to. 

4. Click Modify network or Manage network settings 

5. Select the option to Show advanced options or Advanced settings

6 . Look for the IP settings or IP address section and change the setting from DHCP or Automatic to Static or Manual

7. Enter the desired IP address, subnet mask, gateway, and DNS server details as needed. 

8. Save the changes and reconnect to the Wi-Fi network.


1. Open the Settings app. 

2. Tap on Wi-Fi

3. Tap the (i) icon next to your Wi-Fi network

4. Scroll down and tap Configure IP or Renew Lease

5. Choose the option for Manual or Static

6. Enter the desired IP address, subnet mask, router (gateway), and DNS server details. 

7. Tap Save or Apply to save the changes.

Keep in mind that the ability to manually change the IP address on your device may differ depending on the device’s operating system and manufacturer.

2. Use a dynamic IP 

You can ask your ISP to assign you a dynamic IP instead of a static one. However, it won’t be the same level of security when using a VPN because your connection won’t be encrypted. 

On the bright side, your IP will be rotating. You can transform into a moving IP target, which seems hard to catch.

3. Get a VPN 

You can use a VPN as it masks your actual IP address. A VPN also encrypts your connection and all data passing through. 

Some VPNs also have additional offers for safety. For instance, Surfshark VPN comes with kill switch and obfuscation features for added anonymity. 

4. Use an anonymous browser 

Browsers like Tor allow you to hide your IP address, letting you surf the web anonymously. 

These private browsers work similarly to proxy servers or VPNs. However, you should remember that these companies can also get breached.

💡Did You Know?

Tor had an attack in 2019 by a Russian agency. While the leaked data mainly had to do with the secrets of the Russian Intelligence Service, there is no certainty that your personal data will not be the target of another cyberattack.

5. Update your firewall 

A firewall keeps your device safe by filtering every data that goes in or out of your network. 

To make the most out of your device’s firewall, you must keep it updated. Only updated security tools can withstand the ever-evolving digital threats. 

6. Monitor your privacy settings

Many apps pass your IP address to third parties without your awareness. Clicking on anything on social media may seem normal. However, you’re already passing your IP to a different website or service that way. 

Allow Facebook

Always check the website’s data collection terms. Adjust your device’s privacy settings to keep sites and services from tracking you. 

If you want to know more about how to protect your IP  address, subscribe to the bi-weekly Surfshark newsletter. Discover cool online security tools, news, and offers.

IP Protection is Necessary for Increased Safety

The web will not work without IP addresses being public in a way. However, this publicity can be a double-edged sword. 

It’s important to take care of your IP so it stays in the data baskets of those you can trust. Make sure to keep it protected even if you accidentally visit untrusted parties.

The best way to secure your IP address and gain additional security benefits is to use a VPN and monitor your privacy when browsing.


Should I be worried if someone has my IP address?

No, there’s no need to worry too much. Your employee or ISP has it either way. You should only be concerned if some unusual activity happens on your device or accounts. 

Can someone use my IP address to control my computer remotely?

No. No one can control your device remotely by simply having your IP address. However, if a hacker knows your IP, they can send a phishing email to trick you into downloading malware which can exploit security gaps on your device.

Can someone spy on me with my IP address?

No. No one can spy on you using your IP address alone because it does not give them access to your private accounts or network data. Spying can only be executed with techniques like malware or complicated social engineering.

What does it mean when someone is using my IP address?

If you think that someone is using your IP address, you should investigate right away. It could be that someone has unauthorized access to your router or device. However, ensure first that it’s not coming from another device of yours because that’s normal.


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