Is IP Grabbing Illegal? (All Questions Answered)
Your IP address is how you communicate with the Internet. Without it, that wouldn’t be possible.
Since it’s so important, you have to wonder – is IP grabbing illegal? Is it illegal to track an IP address?
We’ll answer those questions (and more) in this quick five-minute article.
Is IP Grabbing Illegal – Yes or No?
First, what is IP grabbing?
Well, it’s when someone uses a third-party service to “grab” your IP address. For example, they might use Grabify. It lets them create a link which they can send to you. If you access it, they’ll be able to see your IP address (alongside other information) on their end, like this:
If they click “More Info” on the right, they can even see your local IP address – the one your device uses on your network.
So is IP grabbing illegal?
Nope. There’s no specific law preventing someone from targeting you with an IP grabbing tool. Your IP address is pretty much public information at this point – just like your street address or phone number.
However, what someone does with your IP address can become illegal.
Here’s When IP Grabbing Is Against the Law
- When the person grabbing it decides to DDoS you (basically, force you offline with cyber attacks). They can target your network with a DDoS attack because they know your IP address. In most places, doing this is illegal. DoS attacks, however, might not always be illegal because they’re weaker than DDoS attacks. If someone targets you with them constantly, though, you can contact the police.
- When the person who grabbed your IP address tries using it to remotely hack your computer. Normally, an IP address isn’t enough to do that, but some skilled hackers could abuse Shared Resources to perform such a cyber attack. They could also use it to scan for open ports, which they then try to exploit to take over your device.
- If someone uses IP grabbing to target you with phishing attacks. For example, they use it to find who your ISP is, and then they target them with phishing and vishing attacks.
Is IP Tracking Illegal?
It sounds like it should be, but it normally isn’t. It’s how websites keep track of their users, and how they display ads on the Internet. Businesses also use it for all sorts of B2B purposes (marketing, delivering services, analytics, etc.).
As long as they meet any legal data processing requirements (like the GDPR), there are no conflicts with the law.
Is It Illegal for an Individual to Track Your IP Address?
But if they track your IP address for illegal purposes (harassment, stalking, DDoS-ing, cyber attacks, etc.), it obviously goes against the law.
Should You Hide Your IP Address?
That’s up to you.
If you want to enjoy more privacy, and not have websites and random people track it, you should definitely do it. The same goes if you don’t want hackers abusing it or using it to DDoS you.
Plus, you get to enjoy other perks if you hide your IP address:
- The ability to prevent anyone from finding out what country and city you are from + who your ISP is and what your ZIP code is.
- You can bypass geo-restrictions and unblock different websites and online services – like Netflix or Pandora Radio.
- You can also bypass firewalls at work and school. Also, you can get around government censorship since it also relies on firewalls to block sites.
- By hiding your IP address, you make it much harder for advertisers to track your online movements and spam you with personalized ads.
- You might be able to bypass geographical price discrimination. That’s when sites display different prices based on your geo-location. Hiding your IP address means websites won’t be able to see your geo-location anymore.
- Torrenting becomes safer because wannabe hackers, lawyers, and copyright trolls can’t see your IP address in the swarm anymore.
- No risk of a cybercriminal logging it and selling it on the dark web.
- IP bans won’t stop you from gaming online or posting on forums.
How Can You Hide Your IP Address?
These are the most convenient ways to do it:
1. Use a VPN
This is an online service that masks your IP address and encrypts your traffic. Here’s how the process works:
- You download and install a VPN app on your device.
- You use the app to connect to a VPN server.
- The app and the server establish a secure connection between them.
- Any data that passes through that connection is encrypted end-to-end (only the client and server can encrypt/decrypt it).
- When you visit a website, your connection requests go to it through the VPN server.
- The website receives the requests from the VPN server, so it only sees the server’s IP address.
- Anyone else who tries looking up your IP address will also only see the server’s address.
Overall, a VPN is a great way to protect your privacy. Plus, by encrypting your traffic, it makes sure that:
- Hackers can’t abuse vulnerable WiFi networks to monitor your traffic.
- ISPs and surveillance agencies can’t spy on your online browsing.
- ISPs can’t throttle your bandwidth anymore.
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2. Use a Proxy
A proxy server works similar to a VPN – it intercepts your connection requests to the web, and forwards them on your behalf. So any site you visit will only see the proxy server’s IP address.
However, unlike a VPN, proxies don’t offer powerful encryption. Sometimes, they don’t offer any at all.
So you get some privacy by hiding your IP address, but your traffic might not be secure. Also, if you use a free proxy that’s run by a malicious actor, they could log your data.
Generally, you should only use a proxy if you need to unblock a web page. If you need security on top of that, use a VPN. Instead of getting separate services, consider using a VPN whose servers double as proxies. It’s much cheaper.
3. Use Mobile Data or Switch WiFi Networks
If you’re on your mobile and want to change your IP address realf fast, try switching from WiFi data to mobile data.
You’ll use your mobile provider’s network instead of your WiFi network’s ISP, so you’ll get a different IP address.
What if you have a limited mobile data plan and normally use WiFi, though?
In that case, you can switch WiFi networks to change your IP address.
4. Ask Your ISP to Change It
They assigned you your current IP address, so you can ask them to change it. Maybe see if they can offer a dynamic IP address too (one that changes at regular intervals).
If you already have a dynamic IP address, you can usually change it by restarting your router.
Can You Hide Your IP Address with Tor?
Yes, you can do that. Just like a VPN, your connections will go to the Internet through a server. So everybody will see the IP address of the Tor server you’re using.
But we have to warn you – Tor has had and continues to have issues with IP leaks:
- In 2017, the TorMoil issue leaked users’ IP addresses.
- Tor might leak your IP address when you try to open Windows DRM files.
- Torrent clients can sometimes leak your IP address.
- Certain file types (like PDFs) can bypass proxy settings, causing Tor to leak your IP address.
Is IP Grabbing Illegal? The Bottom Line
Not unless the person grabbing your IP address wants to use it to do something illegal – like DDoS-ing you or hacking into your computer.
For normal purposes, IP grabbing (and tracking) is generally legal. If you’re worried it violates your privacy, use a VPN to hide your IP address. It’s the easiest and most convenient way to do it. If you know other methods to mask your IP address (other than the ones we already mentioned), go ahead and tell us about them in the comments.