The Inside Secrets About IP Addresses and Geolocation Accuracy: Should You Worry about Being Tracked?
The Inside Secrets About IP Addresses and Geolocation
Should you worry about being tracked?
Most of us are familiar with the cartoon, “Where’s Waldo?” It’s not easy to find the character in the red and white striped shirt, glasses, and stocking cap.
It’s about the same with Waldo’s IP address (even if it is fictional). If he sent you an email with a picture of himself buried in a crowd, you might find him in the picture, but could you figure out where he’s geographically located?
It seems impossible, right?
Wrong. It’s not as impossible as you might think.
Through a useful internet tool called IP Geolocation Lookup, you can track an IP address close to someone’s exact location. You can get pretty close, depending on a variety of factors, to finding the physical location of someone’s IP address.
Need proof? Let’s see where you are right now.
Where Are You?
Go to our IP Lookup (which is an IP location finder or tracker) to see where you show up on the map. If you allow your browser to update your location when it asks, the geolocation accuracy gets even better.
You can get a good idea of where someone is emailing you from using a geolocation tool like our IP Lookup. And for the most part, that should be good enough. It won’t give you anyone’s name and address, but it’s not supposed to. That would be a violation of their privacy … and a little too creepy.
But you’d be surprised at how close geolocation can sometimes “zoom in”on you.
When you go to the WhatIsMyIPAddress.com homepage, you can see that your IP address was conveniently displayed. And you can also see – maybe surprisingly – that other information was displayed, such as your:
- Zip code
- Longitude and latitude
Whoa! Where did that come from?
It came from the IP address geolocation service used to look at the IP address of wherever you were when you visited our site. The IP address you saw could be your home computer’s IP address, or hte one at the local coffee shop or airport. It all depends on where you are.
Are you feeling creeped out? You don’t have to be.
Learning more about the internet
You can also look at this as a way to get educated on the power of the internet and the tools that you (and others) can use to stay safe. (See our information on how to change your IP address and how to hide your IP address.) After all, your name, street address, nickname, or favorite color were not revealed. Chances are high that your location was, at best, some five or six miles away from your home.
And does anybody care where you are. No – unless you’re Waldo.
Still, even when not pinpoint accurate, geolocation usually puts a computer user in a nearby town or area, which may be good enough for the person who wants to know where the curious email they received is actually from.
That person might be you. You might want to find the IP address of someone who emails you, run it through a high-accuracy geolocation service, and get closer to zeroing in on their location. Maybe not the exact location of their IP address, but with pretty good accuracy.
And that means you can locate Waldo and even direct him to the nearest mall to get a new shirt.
- Easy Prey Podcast
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- Home Computing
- IP Addresses
- Online Privacy
- Online Safety
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