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Blog How email providers leak your IP address

Please, mind this article is being drafted or rewritten and may contain imperfections. It has not been yet reviewed for final publication.

Most email providers record and store your personal data, including your IP address. However, you can prevent your personal information from being sold. Read this article for more details.

Nowadays, internet companies often buy and sell your data without your consent. One of the data these companies buy and sell is your IP (Internet Protocol address). In fact, your IP reveals a lot of information about you. This article explains how to stop companies from selling your personal information.

What is an IP?

An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label such as 192.0.2.1 that is connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. All devices connected to the Internet use IP to communicate. The IP address is a 32-bit (IPv4) or 128-bit (IPv6) numeric label assigned to each device on the network.

If you think of the network as a street, your device is a house on that street. And the IP address is the address of that house. Suppose the postman needs to deliver mail to one of the houses. They would have a hard time doing this without knowing the address.

The same goes for IP addresses. A web server doesn't know what website you're visiting without knowing its IP address (just like a machine doesn't "know" what "Facebook" means).

How people spy on your IP

Maybe you think finding someone's normal address is more challenging than their IP address. But it's actually easier to look up someone's IP address than their normal address.

Here are the three most common ways people can find your IP:

Through email header

An email is like a letter, just without a paper envelope. When you send someone a letter, you usually write the return address (your address) in the upper left corner. With email, you don't have to fill in your IP address. The email does it for you automatically and embeds your address in the header for everyone to see.

If you're a Gmail user, to find someone's IP:

  • All you need to do is click the menu (three dots) next to the Reply arrow, which will open a new small window with several options.

  • Then, you can click Show Original.

  • Find the "Received: " line in the message, where you will find the sender's IP address (it's inside a square bracket).

Unlike many mail providers, Liverado does not send your IP to recipients. Instead, it proactively removes your IP address from all logs and metadata and uses its IP address to send emails. Also, Liverado doesn't know your IP. Refer to Liverado's Privacy Policy.

Through server log

Every time you visit a website on the Internet, you leave your IP address. If web admins wish, they can view their server logs and see by IP address whether you are a new or returning visitor and where you are.

Through image with hidden pixels

If the email client's media blocker is not activated, the sender may discover the IP address of anyone accessing the image contains a spy pixel.

A spy pixel or tracker pixel is a hyperlink to a remote image file in an HTML email message that, if downloaded, can spy on the person reading the email. They are often embedded in the HTML of emails as small, imperceptibly transparent graphic files. Tracker pixels are commonly used in marketing, and several countermeasures are designed to block email tracking pixels. However, few regulations are effective against email tracking methods.

These are just the most common ways people can find your IP, but there are many more, such as:

  • Obtain a court order. In 2016, a new law came into effect. Revisions to a U.S. federal security measure known as Rule 41 give the federal agents more leeway when investigating online activity. Getting a subpoena request for an IP address (and home address) is much easier.

  • Comment via blog. Bloggers write in part to hear from readers. Not only can bloggers read what you say, but they can also discover your IP address with a few keystrokes.

  • Via social media sites (Social media site administrators will see your IP.) Social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) do not reveal users' IP addresses, but web admins know your IP address. Also, if you click on an ad or link on the website, they will capture your IP address.

  • Messaging apps. Every time you interact with someone through messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber, your phone uses an IP address. Your IP address is not visible to the person you send the message to, but if you click on a link in the message, your IP address can be accessed by the website from which you sent it. You can use sites like Grabify.link or iplogger.org to create trackable links .

  • Internet forums. Joining forums to share ideas or participate in discussions is becoming increasingly popular, especially in online education. Your "handle" may identify your voice and opinions, but your IP address identifies your computer to administrators. (That's how they ban you if you break their rules.)

  • Unsecured WiFi networks. If your home network is insecure, strangers can access your wireless network. Also, if you let visitors use your network (you provide the password), they will know your IP address.

  • And more.

How to avoid apps tracking your IP

We've seen how social media sites like Facebook or messaging apps like Viber can track your IP. In 2018, Facebook leaked user data to Cambridge Analytica. This is not the only case of this large company selling or giving away your data to others. This happens all the time, and while they often play with technical issues, they happily collect your data and make a fortune on it.

So how do you prevent apps from tracking your IP address location?

IP geolocation services have become very popular, especially for domain name owners who want to know where their visitors are coming from. Typically, IP geolocation services like this one can show your:

  • Location details (country, region, state, city, latitude, longitude, zip code, time zone, etc.)

  • ISP you using.

  • Your AS (Autonomous System) details.

  • Which network you are using (cable, DSL).

  • The connection you use (modem, broadband, mobile).

  • Place name ID.

  • The domain name to connect to this IP address.

  • And more.

Most apps do need to know your location to function properly. They only do so because they can sell your data to third parties.

VPN

You can hide your real IP using a VPN or proxy service. A virtual private network can route your internet traffic through its server (usually of your choice), which means that the website you're visiting will see that server's IP address instead of yours.

Issues with using a VPN:

  • It can slow down your internet traffic. The proximity of a server plays a big role in internet speed, and if it bounces to a server in another region, this can slow it down.

  • Some websites will see you using a VPN or proxy and ban you from using it. There is even such an online service PrivacyDetection API is provided by IPinfo.io and will tell you if VPN, proxy or Tor block the IP address.

Companies' main argument to defend tracking your IP is that IP is not personal data. So most email providers on the market record and store your data, including your IP address.

However, Liverado secure and encrypted email does not record your IP, and you can use it anonymously. To protect your data, sign up for Liverado now.

Liverado does not record your IP, you can also access Liverado's services through onion websites. Learn how to use Liverado over Tor.

Ready to join Liverado? Start your free 14-day trial today.