Are IP Addresses Traceable?

Q: Can someone really tell who you are by using your IP address?

A: To fully answer this question, let’s start by determining how your IP address is configured. An Internet protocol (IP) address is a unique address used to identify computers on a network similar to a street address for a house.

There are two types of IP configurations: static and dynamic. A static IP address is manually assigned to a computer by an administrator and typically does not change. A dynamic IP address is generally a temporary address that is typically assigned randomly or by a server. If you are unsure whether your computer uses a static or dynamic IP address, most likely it is dynamic. Dynamic IP addresses usually are assigned on local area networks. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) will only assign a static IP address for specific purposes or needs.

Because most IP addresses are dynamic and assigned by your ISP, it would be difficult for anyone to be able to trace an IP to a specific computer and find out information about you. Yes, it can be done, but your common Internet user will not have access to pull that information. Most dynamic IP addresses will be traced to your ISP and not directly to you.

To obtain the actual name and address of the user for an IP address would require your ISP to look up this information, which will typically require a court order. In many situations, the…



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