The IP: The housenumber of your Computer

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 28, 2005
Updated • Apr 28, 2013

Before I start I would like to tell you that there are ways to hide the real IP so that it is not exposed on the Internet (for example by using a proxy server). This is slightly more secure than browsing with your real IP, but its definitely not 100% anonymous.

Whenever you connect to a website, start a ftp session, write an email or use a chat client your IP address is transmitted. IP stands for Internet Protocol and is a 32 bit number that is assigned to every computer connected to the internet. would be an IP address. You can see that it consists of four 8bit octets each separated by "." ranging from 0 to 255.

Note: This is only true for IPv4 addresses. Consult the following article for additional information about the upcoming IPv6 standard.

The most important question is of course: What does the IP address tell others about you?

Most people are not good at remembering numbers, that's one of the reasons why the DNS system, Domain Name System, exists.Computers on the other hand work with numbers and the DNS is used to translate between the computer and the user. There are online tools that do that for you, for example

If you go to the site and enter the IP you see that the look up reveals, the website you are surfing atm. You could easily exchange with the IP and still surf the site, try it if you like.

There are static and dynamic IP addresses. Static means, the IP is not changing, most websites have static IPs. Dynamic means it is changing, mostly dial-ups have these kind of IP addresses. So, when you log on to the Internet you get a free IP address that your provider selects for you, that has been used before by other customers.

Now, you probably want to find out about your own IP  I suppose ? There are numerous services that display your IP address when you visit their websites, there are scripts e.g in forum signatures that do the same.

If you want to try others simply use Google and search for "what is my ip"

The DNS you find gives you detailed information about the internet provider you use. It sometimes also gives more information, for example a country code clearly shows where the internet provider is located. (for example .de mean Germany, .fr is France aso.)

You can find a comprehensive list of country codes here

Let us look at an specific example. Most of you receive spam mails every day. You normally only see a basic header of the email, giving you basic information like from, to, date and subject for instance. Most mail tools have an option to also display extended header information, that's where the senders IP address is located.

Here is a typical extended header

Received: from ( [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id D885256215
for ; Fri, 28 Oct 2005 06:58:33 +0200 (CEST)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2005 08:06:06 +0300
From: "Lon Martin"
To: [email protected]
Subject: Account has been created

This line "Received: from ( [])" is the important one. The Ip of the sender is clearly shown, so is the DNS

There are numerous mail tutorials that describe this procedure in greater detail, for now this is all you need to know for our article.

Lets take a look at another example. Maybe you are using an instant messenger and would like to know the IP addresses of the people you are chatting with. On Windows XP, select START, then run. Enter "cmd" and then "netstat -n" to see a list of all your active connections.

To display an IP address you need to have a session open with someone, private chat, file transfer etc.. If you do the netstat command without a session you only see the IP of the server that you are connected to, you simply do not need to know the IP addresses of the other users who are connected until you communicate with them directly.

This have been two examples, I could give you more (for websites, IRC, Bittorent) but that's not part of this tutorial.

What have we learned so far? Anything you do on the internet also transmits your IP Address.

Your next question probably is the following: If someone has my IP how can he find out more about me?

As we have seen the DNS lookup gives you information about the provider. They could easily file a complaint at your provider for example.

Or, they could hire a lawyer in your country and file a complaint against the user that used the IP at a specific day and time. They normally don't know your name until a law enforcement agency asks the provider for all the details they have about this IP at the given time. I can't speak for every country but for the moment most providers only give out specifics about their users when a court order has been issued.

To clear things up a little bit. Your provider has logs for x days. These logs show at least every IP address assigned to users with information how long the user was online. If someone complained against you the provider simply would search for the specified IP address in their logs and get all the information about the user behind the IP.

I suggest you ask your provider for how long the logs are stored. Mine for example stores them only for a maximum of 24 hours, but I heard of some that save them for up to six months.

That means, for as long as your internet provider has your connection information in their logs someone could find out about you.

I hope you found the information provided useful, I will write an anonymity tutorial soon.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL:

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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