So I was going through my email and accidentally clicked on a suspicious link. It was a quickmessage.io link, which I had no clue what it was. When I clicked on it, my anti-virus came up and blocked it from accessing it, saying that the link may be harmful and may want to steal your info. I clicked off it and didn't go further than that.

I looked into it and apparently, it's an IP tracker website. Now I'm scared that whoever it was now has my IP address and maybe my home address. Is it possible to get one's home address through the IP address? Is it possible that they have it, even if I clicked off it with my anti-virus?

I went into shock mode and straight away downloaded a VPN. Am I safe?

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  • 1
    I agree with all above answers that if you are worrying about you physical location than it's not easy to crack. I may be out of context, but just wanted to let you know that getting someone's IP address is first step. It may be used to get open port from your devices and may trying to find venerability. Best option: if you can restart your reouter ; do that. Your ISP will get you new ip and things will be back to normal. Just a word of caution however this type of incident really doesn't matter. + This is just a peace of mind + – PrashantKC Sep 13 at 16:35
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    Did you know that a lot of people who provide VPN services do so only because that enables them to snoop on everything you do on the internet? Be sure you are able to verify the legitimacy of your VPN provider or it will definitely decrease your security. – Nobody Sep 13 at 21:46
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    Did you know that the owner of every website you visit knows your IP address? – immibis Sep 13 at 22:52
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    @DanDascalescu So does simply existing. All of those bold claims are misrepresentations of XKeyscore rules. The fact is, everything gets you targeted by the NSA. That is why it's called dragnet surveillance. – forest Sep 14 at 0:40
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    @DanDascalescu I just clicked your link - am I now being surveilled by the NSA? – Mawg Sep 14 at 11:44

10 Answers 10

First: almost every single site out there is an "IP logger". Every server logs at least this information:

  • IP address of the client
  • Browser type and version
  • Operating system
  • Which site they came from (the Referer)

So, not only does this site have your IP address, but each site you ever visited has your IP address in their own logs. A few, very few sites won't log any information, but they are a negligible minority.

But you don't need to be paranoid. The IP address alone is not enough to get your name, your home address and the kind of car you drive. It's possible to correlate information and get close to that, but it's not something you will have to be worried about, unless someone is being paid to track you specifically. It's expensive, takes a lot of work and time, and does not always work, so don't expect a full tracking mode to be started just for you because you clicked a link.

Concerning GDPR:

6.1 Processing shall be lawful only if and to the extent that at least one of the following applies: f) processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party

I am not a lawyer, but in sysadmin circles, it seems that protecting your service or a third party from fraud or security violations are legitimate reasons to log an IP address, and thus are legal under GDPR.

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    European-based sites shouldn't store full IP addresses under GDPR. Specifically in Germany it was forbidden even before GDPR. – kubanczyk Sep 13 at 17:33
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    @kubanczyk, if european websites weren't allowed to store IP addresses, then they wouldn't be able to report any crimes to the police or block malicious traffic. Investigations without knowing the IPs would probably be too hard. As ThoriumBR said, I would say that logging the IPs is definitely a "legitimate interest" allowed by the GDPR. – reed Sep 13 at 18:07
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    How could someone that's not the ISP track an IP address to a home address? Unless you mean someone with access to something like Amazon.com logs, and can somehow search for an IP address associated with an account (or similar common website) – Steve Sether Sep 13 at 18:08
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    I upvoted this answer. Just wanted to add Re: the Am I safe question, the answer is almost certainly not. The OP took an action based on something they "saw on the internet" with what appears to be no knowledge of the risks VPN use is to mitigate, if the chosen service will fulfil that need, or the OPSEC behaviours users need to adopt to make such a service useful as a privacy aid. – James Snell Sep 13 at 20:23
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    That's why I said A few, very few sites won't log any information.... – ThoriumBR Sep 14 at 11:11

Any web page you load will have your IP address

In order for your browser to download the content associated with a website, your computer will send requests which include your IP address (this is how the data knows where to be sent). However, your antivirus software may have prevented the connection. Depending on how your AV works, it may have prevented you from making a connection to the suspicious website, and your IP address would not be known to the suspicious website.

It is unlikely someone has your home address from your IP address

The whois protocol could be used to determine a physical address from an IP address. However, in home-user applications, your ISP's information will be returned, not your own. Furthermore, ISPs often dynamically assign IP addresses to their clients, so the IP address you use today may not be the IP address you use tomorrow.

How else could an attacker get your home address from your IP address?

An ISP could store information on the modem such as a customer account identifier which could lead to an attacker determining your home address if they compromised the modem. If an attacker compromised your router, they could sniff traffic to look for your address traversing the network unencrypted or attempt to correlate a Wi-Fi router's MAC address or broadcast name with a Wi-Fi geoloation database such as WiGLE. If an attacker could compromise a computer on the local network, the attacker may be able to find documents which contain the user's home address. Keeping the modem, router and computers well configured and up to date will mitigate the likelihood of this happening.

Assume your IP address is known

You can't operate on the Internet without exposing your IP address, so you should assume that it is known. Additionally, (assuming IPv4) there is a relatively small number of IP addresses available, which means scanners may be trying to connect to your IP address even if you have never "given" it to them somehow.

A well managed local network will mitigate the risks of an attacker having your IP address

Because you must assume that your IP address is known or will be guessed, you should set up your network to protect your computer.

  1. Keep your router up to date with the latest firmware, and check its configuration.
  2. Connect your computers to the router and the router to the Internet. This will give each of your computers a private IP address that is not routable from the public Internet. Your router will then forward requests from all clients using the same public IP address.
  3. For each of your computers, set up a firewall to block access that is initiated from the public Internet.

Be wary of all software, including VPNs

You should be wary of any software you download, especially those offering free services. If you are using a free service, it is likely that your data is what is "paying" for that service. If you want to maintain privacy on the web consider using Privacy Badger.

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    Thanks for the tip on Privacy Badger. I have been interested in AdBlock, etc., but they always required too much fiddling with configuration. This part of the PrivacyBadger goals caught my attention: "...which could function well without any settings, knowledge, or configuration by the user..." – Wildcard Sep 13 at 19:57
  • It may be a different question, but - how come an attacker gets my home address by hacking into my modem/router? – mgarciaisaia Sep 14 at 12:26
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    @Wildcard: uBlock Origin, which is the technical leader in ad blocking, don t require any fiddling with configuration – DrakaSAN Sep 14 at 12:47
  • @amccormack Thank you very much. Haven't thought of those vectors at all. – mgarciaisaia Sep 14 at 13:38
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    (+1) I am using Privacy Badger and I guess the fact it comes from the EFF gives it some additional credibility but I can't help but note that it's a piece of software too and it's free of charge... – Relaxed Sep 16 at 11:00

Unlike on TV, it's not easy to track an IP address to a physical address without getting the ISP involved.

So don't worry about that.

VPN's are always a good idea. My personal kit is always on VPN connections but I'm paranoid.

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    How can you trust your VPN provider tho? – Bailey S Sep 13 at 17:53
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    @BaileyS Basically the choice is "trusting your ISP" vs. "trusting your VPN provider". Either of them could turn out to be evil, but maybe you should choose the one that gets most of its business and reputation from respecting privacy and not keeping logs. – Federico Poloni Sep 13 at 18:31
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    @FedericoPoloni Are you saying there is a reputable VPN provider?!? – Bailey S Sep 13 at 18:43
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    On TV, all you need is a GUI in Visual BASIC to track an IP in real-time! – forest Sep 14 at 0:41
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    @uom-pgregorio Even the ones that are "reputable" do not operate on reputable ISPs, which have the same capabilities to correlate and deanonymize you as the VPN you use. The fact is, even if a VPN service does not log, their ISP does. See security.stackexchange.com/a/175186/165253. – forest Sep 14 at 0:42

You shouldn't worry to much about this.

It's unclear from your description if the antivirus blocked the page before or after it was accessed. So I can't say if they got your IP address. But even if they did, it doesn't matter. You can't get someone's home address from just an IP address, just a very approximate geolocation (like what city you are in). Only your ISP could connect the IP address to you personally.

A VPN hides your real IP address from sites you visit. But it does not help retroactively, so installing one after you clicked the link makes no difference here. Of course, it can be good for the future, though.

  • Well i assumed when i clicked the link it came up straight up before going on to the page, if they do have my IP do they get any of my personal info from it ? like my name etc? if you want to check out the website i think they used its here grabify.link Im just really worried thats all, thank you for the help though! – A.james Sep 13 at 14:13
  • @A.james No, they don't get your name or any personal info. – Anders Sep 13 at 14:49
  • thank you so much for clarifying that for me – A.james Sep 13 at 15:51

Every time you connect to another computer via the Internet protocol (IP) the computer at the other end can see and log your IP address. (I am ignoring rare examples where you are sending messages via UDP with a faked source IP address and receive no data back or manage to intercept messages in transit to your faked IP address.) HTTP and HTTPS are TCP protocols, meaning before you connect, you first have a handshake (where you have to observe and send back a random 32-bit ACK), so they can observe your IP address.

That said, if you use a VPN, you only expose your real IP address to your VPN provider, and then expose one of the VPN's IP addresses to every website/computer you connect with.

As for their ability to get your physical address from your IP address: generally, using public IP address-based geolocation tools only traces an IP address to your city based on the RIR records. That said, someone who can access ISP records should be able to discover the actual address that was assigned that IP address -- so law enforcement or certain ISP employees could access this.

They also may be able to cross-reference your IP address with a physical address from other data sources -- e.g., if you buy something from an online store and put in your physical address from a given IP address, someone could associate that IP address with your real address (especially if that online store's database is compromised). Or if someone with GPS enabled (or other rough location tools) on their phone connects to your Wi-Fi network (or observes the profile of nearby APs which seems to be unique and scanned in your area), it would be possible for GPS and data using applications to associate your physical address with your IP address.

Although all previous answers are of course entirely correct, they lack an important point: This link was in an email. This is why the antivirus has raised an alert. Exactly for the same reason that Thunderbird or any other email client does not download remote content by default. Of course the malicious website has not your home address, but still it has grabbed some infos about you: (Quoted from Mozilla support)

Remote content is a privacy concern because it allows the message sender to know:

  • each time you view the message
  • rough details about what application and what platform you are using
  • your current geographic location (a rough approximation by IP address)
  • that your email address is actually used ("active")
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One point to note is that "Am I safe?" depends on your threat model.

If you have powerful or well-funded adversaries, who only know you from your online presence, and are keen to track you down, then your IP address will help them immensely, since they'll be able to get your details with help from your ISP.

If you've got kinda motivated adversaries, then they'll be able to use a Geo IP lookup to figure out which city or region you're in, which might or might not be a threat, depending on what else they know about you.

If you've got no real adversaries, but are worried about opportunists trying to scam you, you're probably fairly safe, although you should always stay vigilant to scams, install regular security updates, etc. Unless you're a particularly high value target, they're not going to drive to your house, even if they do somehow have your address, and they're probably not even going to waste money on a stamp to send you a letter. Scammers like easy targets.

The IP address isn't yours - it's your provider's. So no, they do not have your address - they have an IP address from your ISP's or organisation's block.

Yes, these can be used to look up locations. My own work can be found via our outbound address - but the requests going through this will not from address using this gateway will not.

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    The IP isn't yours - its your providers. that's being overly technical. My telephone number also isn't but my phone provider's. But people associate it with me. I associate it with me. Even my phone provider associates with me. The phrase "my IP" still holds up though - it already means "the IP I am using at this point in time" - whether other people are also using it or it's going to change. – vlaz Sep 14 at 7:35
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    @vlaz If you change to a different phone provider, you can keep your phone number. Your IP address might change at any time (for a typical home user who doesn't have a static IP address). If I look up a phone number, I expect to find who's number it is (though I might not succeed). If I look up an IP, I'll generally only find the ISP. – Ian D. Scott Sep 14 at 18:14
  • @IanD.Scott so? Point was that "my IP" is perfectly reasonable and commont thing to say. Nobody would or should be confused by what that phrase because it's not 100% precise. That's how language works - we use shorthand even when slightly incorrect because we all understand the right thing. – vlaz Sep 14 at 18:24
  • The last sentence is partly incomprehensible. Can you fix it? – Peter Mortensen Sep 16 at 10:09

You are facing two entirely separate issues.

First, as everyone else has already explained, every web site knows your IP address. They can usually infer your general geographic region, but they cannot locate your home address. Your ISP can map your name to that IP if ordered to do so by a court, however, so you don't have complete anonymity.

The second issue is your antivirus alert. There is nothing inherently dangerous about a web site knowing your IP address, and there is certainly nothing dangerous about displaying it to you.

The antivirus alert probably tripped due to some script on the web page that either invades your privacy or attempts to compromise your computer. If your AV blocked it, you were protected from that threat and don't need to worry.

How to deal with it?

If you don't want to worry about exposing your IP address (because your ISP can link that to your identity with a court order), use a good VPN service.

Don't visit that site again, and be careful where you click. While there is a chance your AV alert was a false positive, there is also a lot of malicious code on the internet.

At first I wish to inform you that every server have some application to store the ip details or session details. Some firewall types equipment installed at every server end. They used to save records.

IP address is the physical address of your PC., but not your's. So nothing to worry. It is not too easy to crack any IPS database. They have different firewall types devices for their safety process. It is different issue that hackers used to crack almost all major ISP. But at some level in this recent time ISP are using private IP address series with subnet /31. So it is very difficult to crack.

VPN is safe. But it depends what you are using and through which process.

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