Can I Get Someone’s Name and Address from Their IP Address?

I have the IP address of someone who’s causing me some problems. Can I get their name and location from that?

Yes and no. But mostly no.

This is perhaps one of the most common questions I get. Unfortunately, people’s expectations have been colored — often dramatically — by popular television shows and movies.

Unfortunately, this is real life, which isn’t nearly as easy or exciting.

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What’s the Difference Between a MAC Address and an IP Address?

What is the difference between a MAC Address and an IP Address? Are both traceable back to your computer? And can you hide them? If by hiding them is your computer safer from hackers. Also, are the free versions as good as the ones you buy?

Well, the last one is easy to answer: there’s no concept of free versus paid IP or MAC addresses. As you’ll see in a moment, IP addresses are assigned as part of connecting to a network, and MAC addresses are assigned at the time hardware is manufactured.

Even hiding a MAC or IP address is a concept that doesn’t quite apply, but we’ll get in to that too.

And whether MAC or IP addresses are hidden or not, they are not the kind of things you should be spending your time worrying about to stay safe from hackers.

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Can My ISP Monitor My Internet Usage?


Can employees at a local telephone ISP read my e-mails and monitor my web surfing and tell others about what they read/see?

Yes. Yes, they can.

The real question is, would they? Probably not. And yet … there are new concerns that they might occasionally even be required to.

If it’s of real concern to you, what might you do? I do have some ideas.

Read moreCan My ISP Monitor My Internet Usage?

How do I tell who really sent an email?

Leo, how do I tell who really sent me an email? And I mean their real name, location and telephone number if at all possible?

This is super simple.

You can’t.

Now, I’m assuming you don’t work in law enforcement. They police can get a lot of information; more than you or I ever could. Most of what I have to say will look at the various pieces of data that are associated with an email, and explain how easily they can be completely falsified. I can think of one scenario where you might get lucky, but that’s only if the sender isn’t being particularly careful.

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Can My ISP See that I’m Using a Proxy?

I’m living in the UK, using a well-known ISP-changer program. It gives me a different ISP address that says I’m in the Netherlands, Russia, or the USA. What exactly does my own ISP see when I use this? Can they still tell how much I download for example?

This is an interesting question, particularly when it comes to understanding “IP-changing”  services.

Before I answer your questions, I need to clear up some terminology that you’re using… just to be sure that we’re talking about the same thing.

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Can Search Engines Track My Searches?

Can Google (or any other search engine for that matter) accumulate data on my searches or internet activity if I don’t have a Google account?

Yes, they can. There are a couple of interesting ways that they gather this information.

Read moreCan Search Engines Track My Searches?

If an IP address doesn’t do it, then how does Google know my location?

In your articles, you often mention that an IP address cannot find out my actual location. OK. Then how does Google know my location … my actual location?

That’s an interesting conundrum. I’m actually somewhat surprised at how accurate Google can be at times, but you also have to realize that you give Google a lot more information than just your IP address.

Let’s talk about some of those.

Read moreIf an IP address doesn’t do it, then how does Google know my location?

What Can People Tell from My IP Address?

What exactly can someone tell from your IP address and what can they do with it? Can they find personal details or my precise geographical location?

It’s typically very easy to find out your IP address or the IP address of someone with whom you are communicating somehow on the internet.

Unfortunately, many people believe that with an IP address, it’s possible to find out all sorts of information about the person at that connected computer.

That’s simply not the case.

Exactly how much it does expose about you specifically depends on your ISP and how their (and your) network is configured.

The very short answer? Not much.

Read moreWhat Can People Tell from My IP Address?

Footnotes & references

1: Note that I use a P.O.Box not my home address. The infamous Mat Honan account hack used exactly this technique to learn his home address and thereby, the billing address of his credit card.

2: Unless you made that information public by registering a domain name with your name and physical address, and then pointing that domain to an IP address that is connected to your physical address.

3: First, I’m not a lawyer and this is in no way legal advice. Second, all of this assumes that your country has a court system. I’m speaking mostly of how I understand things to operate in the United States. The requirements (if any) in other countries may be very different.

What’s My IP Address?

As you probably already know your IP address is the “address” or logical (not physical) location of your computer or router connected to the internet.

There are plenty of sites that will tell you your IP address. In fact, any web site you visit can see it.

I’ll do the same, but also try to explain, a little, exactly what it is you’re seeing.

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