Although technology has made our lives infinitely easier, at times, it can also be a source of danger. We are not talking about addiction to games or dying out of dehydration because you couldn’t stop checking Facebook notifications.
Instead, in a world where so many things are done online – think of all the payments, documents, and private conversations that shouldn’t be made public, we are increasingly more prone to the attacks of hackers. We divulge so much information about our private lives online that you don’t need any hacking skills to guess half of the passwords – all you need is some time and patience.
In this scary, scary world, you might even worry that someone might find out where do you live, based on your IP address. Are your worries warranted? Let’s find out!
What is an IP address?
Think of IP address as your mailing address. If you want to connect to the internet, you receive an IP address from your Internet Service Provider that allows you to send emails, browse websites, and do anything imaginable on the internet.
How accurate is it?
Is it possible for someone else to obtain your address? Yes. It doesn’t mean, though, that you should worry about it. It is possible to guess your general whereabouts from your IP address only, but it is by no means an accurate method.
Depending on where you live, your IP address might be enough to guess the city you are from, or sometimes even your neighbourhood; at other times, though, it might point to cities located hundreds of miles from your home.
If you are worried that because you have sent a rude message to someone on the internet, you might be in big trouble, you are only half-right. The offended person won’t learn more than your general whereabouts. On the downside, you may be a toxic person.
Can my browsing history be tracked?
If being rude to people you don’t know is not enough for you, and you would like to engage in any activity that is illegal in your country, you should use Tor or VPNs to mask your browsing history. Here, you can check out VPN comparison.
Your Internet Service Provider collects data about your search history – the websites you visit, when do you visit them, but also your personal information – your sex, age, musical tastes; in short, everything.
Thankfully, there is a way to make it close to impossible to track your internet habits.
Tor was developed to make it more difficult to track the data essential to US intelligence. Think of all the classified data that if it were to leak out, it would endanger many individuals. Yes, the US government was worried about it as well, which is why they developed it in the first place.
With time, though, the team behind Tor made it possible for everyone to use it. Why? Were they keen on making it easier for people to hire assassins online, or to order psychoactive substances? Not exactly.
Masking your online activity can be done not out of the desire to harm your brain through various methods, but instead to avoid dire consequences for voicing your opinion against the authoritarian regime. Not everyone lives in a country where there is a broad agreement that “free speech” is something desirable, or perhaps you are indeed free to say anything you want, but you need to be prepared to spend a long time in a maximum-security prison.
Even if you live in a country that does not send people to jail for simply voicing their opinion, your ISP sells your search history to third parties. Because of that, you see ads that are tailored specifically for you. Not everyone likes that, which is why many people use either Tor or VPN.
What is a VPN?
VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, allows you to use a private network, which minimizes the chances of your private data leaking out. It is frequently used by companies that allow their employees to work from home, but don’t want their private information to become known to anyone else. The data transferred this way is encrypted, and it is next to impossible to track the user’s history.
Will it help?
If your goal is to make it impossible for people to guess where you live, based on your IP address, then you are completely safe. Your IP address will change, which means that any person interested in your location won’t be able to learn even in which city you live in.
Even with VPN or Tor, it is theoretically possible for the government to track you down, although the chances of that happening are incredibly slim. If you are not a second Pablo Escobar, or you don’t live in China, you are most probably safe.