What to do if someone steals your IP address

Maybe there's weird activity on your home network. That's when you need to check your IP address.

Sam Cook's ISP informed him that he has been downloading illegal material. He has done no such thing. He asked me to help him solve this problem.

Neither your ISP nor anyone else can actually tell what you are doing on the Internet. But they can follow the activity of your public IP address--the one your router uses to access the Internet. And if someone else uses that address for unsavory purposes, you could become a prime suspect.

As I've previously explained, your public IP address is readily accessible on the Internet. Anyone can use it to discover your general location (your neighborhood, not your house) and your ISP. Your ISP can identify it as yours, and will do so if subpoenaed.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

So how could someone else be using your public IP address?

It could very likely be someone you live with. Everyone using your home network is using the same public IP address. Have a very serious talk with your family or roommates.

Another possibility: A neighbor may have hacked into your Wi-Fi network, and is now using it without your permission. You can stop this by changing your Wi-Fi network's password and tightening your router's security.

Something else to keep in mind: Most home Internet connections use a dynamic IP address. From time to time, your address will change. When your ISP accuses you of illegal activity, ask them how long you've had that particular address. Yes, they should have looked that up before contacting you, but we all know that ISPs often lack sterling customer service records.

Finally, it's possible that someone far away could actually be spoofing your IP address. Discuss the possibility with your ISP, and ask them to give you a new IP address. If they comply, and the illegal activity stops, you've solved the problem.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags pcworldidentity theftsecurity

More about

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lincoln Spector

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place