8/27/2021
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Even if you don’t know what an IP address is, you have probably heard the term. That’s because IP addresses are an important aspect of the architecture of the Internet. Without an IP address, other computers wouldn’t be able to communicate with yours, and vice versa. But this short string of numbers can also be used to track you, so for this reason, you may want to anonymize your IP address. In this article, we discuss what an IP address is, and what are some ways you can hide your IP.

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This article will explore the topic of IP addresses in detail, explaining what they are and why you might want to keep yours private. At the end, we’ll cover a few simple ways to hide your IP address.

What is an IP address?

An IP address, which stands for Internet Protocol address, is a unique numeric combination that identifies routers, computers, or other devices to allow them to communicate through the Internet. In the same way your email address allows others to send you an email, a remote computer needs your IP address to communicate with your computer. IP addresses normally look something like this: 185.159.159.140

Giving out your public IP isn't recommended. It's not unsafe, but if hackers see it and wish to attack your connection, it will only slow down your connection. But anyone could randomly attack IP addresses and cause slow downs in any connection. It's unlikely that someone can find anything private about you by knowing only your IP address. The recent string of security breaches on major corporations by malicious hackers and scammers is a huge cause for concern. However, security breaches can happen to individuals who use the internet because your IP address can be seen by the public.

An IP address is a sequence of four blocks of numbers. Each of these blocks is a value between 0 and 255, meaning that each block has 256 possible values. This numeric IP system allows roughly four billion unique IP addresses.

It’s relatively easy to find someone’s IP address. Website analytics can track site visitors, and sometimes wikis and comment boards identify contributors with their IP address. Your Internet service provider (ISP) also knows your IP address.

Because your IP address can be used to identify you, regulators and privacy advocates consider it to be a form of personal data. Under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, organizations are required not to misuse the IP addresses of citizens and residents of the European Union.

However, that doesn’t mean your IP address is safe from hackers, unethical companies, and repressive government agencies.

How your IP address can be misused

Like any piece of personal information, there are ways others can try to exploit it. Some kinds of misuse may be relatively harmless, such as the unauthorized use of your IP address to track you across the Internet and target you for advertising. Other abuse can be extremely destructive. These are some of the main threats:

  • Ad networks – Companies like Google and Facebook are constantly monitoring your online browsing in order to deliver personalized ads. Many people find these ads intrusive and don’t want corporations keeping a record of their activity.
  • Censorship – The Internet is supposed to be a place for the free and open exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, many governments and businesses would rather it weren’t. Repressive governments often block websites they dislike, and companies often block IP addresses based on their geographic location.
  • Illegal downloading – Cyber criminals can download pirated moves, music, and videos – even child pornography – using your IP address to shield their true identity from law enforcement. In many countries, downloading pirated content is a criminal offense.
  • Targeted attacks – Hackers who want to harass and intimidate you can use your IP address in a number of ways. One popular form is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, in which the criminal bombards your device with data and disrupts your Internet access. Your IP address can even reveal your physical location with surprising accuracy.
  • Surveillance – When your Internet service provider can see your IP address, it can associate your online activity with you personally. This information can be used to censor or throttle content, and, through a subpoena, the government could also gain access to your browsing history.

How to keep your IP address private

Luckily, it’s pretty simple to prevent your IP address from being exposed to the network. Here are four steps to hide your IP address:

1. Use a VPN

A VPN establishes an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server. When you browse the Internet using a VPN, all your traffic passes through this encrypted tunnel before reaching the public Internet. In this way, your true IP address and location are hidden, and the IP address tied to your browsing activity is that of the VPN server. For more information about VPNs, check out our articles on how a VPN works and why use it.
ProtonVPN also has an advanced security feature called Secure Core, which defends against sophisticated network-based attacks that can compromise VPN servers and expose your IP address.

2. Follow the basic precautions

We discussed in our article “Why online privacy matters and how you can protect your data.” We’ve provided some safe options for browsers, email services, and instant messaging apps that should help you to control your privacy.

3. Use Tor

Is My Ip Safe

Is Your Ip Address Safe

Haptime digital alarm clock. Tor is a free software program developed by The Tor Project, which allows users to anonymize their Internet traffic. This makes it a useful tool for those concerned about surveillance and for those who wish to access onion sites. ProtonVPN supports access to the Tor network, making it simple to route your entire Internet connection through the Tor network with a single click. ProtonVPN Tor nodes connect to the Tor network by establishing a new route each time a user establishes a new VPN session. This way, none of the Tor nodes along the way receive information about the originating client, and user details stay hidden even in the case of a malicious Tor node.

4. Keep your antivirus software up to date, and change the default password on your router

These are easy ways to protect your devices from malware attacks that can expose your data, including your IP address.

There’s little reason not to keep your IP address hidden: The hazards of exposing your IP address far outweigh the ease of protecting it. Just as you may not want to publish your phone number or home address online, it may be just as prudent to keep your IP address private as well.

Best Regards,
The ProtonVPN Team

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Symantec Mail Security Reputation

Symantec uses various methods and data sources to create lists of IP addresses that are suspected of being untrustworthy. These IP addresses may include:

What Is My Ip Safe

  • Compromised machines ('zombies') that send out spam.
  • Open proxies that allow untrusted e-mail to pass through them.
  • Systems that are observed sending spam on the Internet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is My Ip Address Safe

General Questions:

Q: Why is my IP address assigned a negative reputation?
A: IP addresses are assigned a negative reputation when they are found to be open proxies or when they send high levels of spam or viruses to spam traps and users. These IP addresses are analyzed to see if they belong to machines that should not be sending mail.
Please remove viruses, open proxies or any potentially mis-configured applications or bad software from your server.
Q: What is an open proxy?
A: An open proxy is a computer that allows e-mail to be sent from arbitrary users (or machines). Modern mail hosts only allow mail to be delivered locally to their own users or transferred remotely from their own authenticated users. Open proxies are often old or improperly configured servers, but they can also be compromised personal computers. Open proxies can occur on both personal computers and UNIX systems.
Q: What is a zombie?
A: A zombie computer, or zombie for short, is a computer attached to the Internet that has been compromised by a computer virus or worm. Such a machine can be controlled from a central location, without the knowledge of the machine's owner, and can be made to perform various malicious tasks including, but not limited to, sending spam. Millions of such zombie computers are known to exist, linked up into a number of 'zombie networks' (sometimes referred to as botnets) to form a massive distributed server farm for the purpose of delivering spam simultaneously from origins distributed across the entire Internet.
Zombies are now the most common delivery method of spam, accounting for a majority of all spam worldwide.
Q: What does it mean to be observed sending spam?
A: Symantec maintains a proprietary intelligence network that monitors e-mail activity across a large portion of the Internet. When Symantec observes a host/server/computer sending spam, it means that e-mail specifically identified as spam was registered as originating from the host/server/computer in question.
Q: I've requested that Symantec clear the reputation of my IP address, but I still receive bounce messages when I try to send e-mail. What should I do?
A: First, be sure that your e-mail program is set up properly: if your connection is through dial-up, cable, or DSL, your Internet service provider will most likely require you to send all mail through the mail server they provide. Second, ensure that your system is free of security threats by scanning it with a virus scanner that has up-to-date virus definitions. Remove any viruses or malware that are found.
If you still find that your IP address has been assigned a negative reputation, provide additional information in the provided form to help us further diagnose problems.
Q: What does it mean to be unauthorized to send email directly to email servers?
A: IPs such as dynamic IPs may be listed because they generally should not be sending email directly to email servers. For most home users, this listing should not impact you. This listing does not prevent you sending email unless your email program is not authenticating properly when it connects to your ISP or company's mail server.
Verify that your mail program is using SMTP authentication, if it is not enabled you should enable it. If you are attempting to send mail to an ISP other than your provider you should verify that you are authenticating through your ISP's outbound SMTP server. You should verify that your username and password are up to date. Additionally you should verify that you are using the specified port for sending using authentication; for authentication this should be port 587. If you are using port 25 you are most likely not authenticating and could be blocked.

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For Server Administrators:

Q: My mailer is professionally hosted with a static IP address, not a residential dial-up or broadband address. Why was it identified as a zombie?
A: Make sure that your machine's DNS records don't look like a residential IP address. You may need to contact your hosting provider to resolve these issues. Verify that PTR records exist for all IP addresses that the machine uses to send mail. This is known as having RDNS (Reverse DNS).
If you do not have any RDNS records, you will encounter delivery problems to many major ISPs. Verify that the RDNS records are visible from an outside source, and make sure that these PTR records are not 'generic RDNS' records, e.g. 201-137-58-21-srv.example.com. Such records are common for new machines, and are virtually indistinguishable from residential broadband addresses.
Q: My host does not relay on port 25. Why am I listed as an open proxy?
A: Open proxies are not limited to using port 25 and can often be found in relation to other applications that have been badly configured such as web servers or http proxies.
Make sure that your machine is not accepting non-authenticated SMTP relay connections on any port. Also check for compromises to your machine, the existence of an open proxy often indicates a machine has been successfully attacked.
If the machine is professionally hosted, please contact your system administrator for help with these tasks. Never run port scanning software without explicit authorization from the network owner.
Q: What if my server is behind a NAT?
A: Being behind a NAT alone does not prevent spam and viruses. Please remove viruses, open proxies or any other mis-configured applications of bad software from the server in question.
Firewall rules or other ACLs restricting servers from connecting to the internet except through specified servers, - usually mail server on port 25 - is one way of limiting infected computers from getting spam and viruses out of a network.