Privacy / Security

IP Address: The Information It Can Reveal About You and How to Prevent It

ip address

Internet Protocol Address or IP Address is the unique address of any device connected to the internet. This address tells the devices on the internet where to find each other and where to send messages and data. Without a unique IP address, a device would be lost in the sea of online data.

Your IP address is not set in stone. When you connect to the internet, you actually go through two steps. At first, you connect with your Internet Service Provider (ISP), who is responsible for providing the internet to a host of devices. Then your ISP lets you connect to the world and the internet.

Several tools can help you find your IP address. If you want to know what the IP address of the device you are using right now is (whether it’s a computer or a phone), you can find out using ExpressVPN’s my IP checker or another similar tool.

While being crucial to the online connectivity and internet activity of a device, your IP address can also reveal some important things about you. It’s important that you know how to prevent your IP address from revealing sensitive information about you.

Three Things Your IP Address Can Reveal

The three important pieces of information your IP address can disclose are:

Physical Location

The IP address can be used to reveal your device’s physical or geolocation. It’s not nearly as accurate as a GPS location, because in most cases, the IP address reveals the area, city, and country of your ISP. But that’s still information that you might prefer staying private. By itself, the geolocation tools that convert your IP address to the physical location of your ISP aren’t very accurate. But combined with other bits of information about you, like your email address or phone number, your IP can be used to trace you.

This can be problematic if unsavory characters or criminals use your IP address to try and find you in real life. In worst-case scenarios, it can lead to situations like stalking and blackmailing.

Personal Information

While it may require some more digging, your IP address can help someone start looking into your personal information. If your ISP isn’t very careful about your billing and contact information, your IP address can be used to identify your name, address, email, and contact number. And with these identifying factors, people can potentially find all the information that’s freely available about you. For example, all your social media accounts, the reviews and complaints you write, and your memberships, etc.

Usually, it’s not a problem, but if someone decides to focus upon you, depending on their resources and expertise, they can map out your whole online life using your IP address and the additional information they get using it.

Data and Browsing History

Perhaps the information most businesses are interested in about you comes from your browsing history and your online data. It reveals your habits, product preferences, favorite vendors, purchase patterns, and even brand loyalty. Armed with this information, advertizes can use your IP address to deliver you specifically tailored ads. Typically, this is just annoying as it might mean a barrage of ads that specifically target you. On a larger scale, this and other relevant information can be used to create a detailed consumer profile.

On the other hand, your browsing history is mostly only kept by your ISPs, and they can sometimes sell information about which websites you frequent to third-party advertisers.


Now that you understand how your IP address can be used to identify and profile you, it’s important to know how to protect yourself. The most common way to do it is to use a VPN service. A VPN creates a safe “tunnel” to route your data through a different IP address (and location), which makes it harder for prying eyes (hackers) to use your data or identify your IP address.

It’s important to understand that your IP doesn’t always remain the same. You may be able to change it simply by restarting your router or connecting it to a different WiFi device. But the new IP address provided by an ISP would be just as vulnerable as the old one. So it’s better to use a VPN, which will ensure that no matter where you are connecting from, your data and identity are safe.

There are other alternatives, like using the Tor browser, which routes your internet data through the Tor network, which anonymizes it. Some people prefer buying a proxy IP address, while some use free public WiFi, which is safe and dangerous at the same time. But in most cases, a VPN is likely to be your best choice.

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