Hackers can create a lot of havoc with your online identity. If your IP address is hacked, you may become vulnerable to a variety of serious threats ranging from minor annoyance to malicious hijacking. Surprisingly, IP address hacking does not generally lead to access to your personal information, but it can be used for other nefarious purposes.
Hackers have been known to use stolen IP addresses to download illegal content like pirated material, child pornography, or content that threatens national security. Hacked IP addresses can also be used for DDoS attacks (“distributed denial-of-service”), which basically shut down your access to the Internet. This tactic has been used frequently against gamers.
Protect yourself from IP address hacking using these five simple steps.
1. Change Your Privacy Settings
Hackers can gain access to your IP address through instant messaging apps like Skype. Don’t accept calls or IMs from people you don’t know.
Changing your settings to “private” will make it more difficult for hackers to find your IP address. This is not only limited to instant messaging apps but any apps that you use for internet access.
2. Use a Virtual Private Network
Protect yourself from IP address hacking by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A VPN will make your actual IP address invisible and will route your online activity through a proxy server. The use of VPN is particularly important if you are accessing your internet using public WiFi services, as the VPN not only protects you from being hacked but also prevents eavesdropping of your data being transmitted over the network.
Considered the most effective way to protect against getting your IP address hacked, most VPN services charge a fee. The free services available online may not be sufficient if you use your computer for games or streaming content.
The IP2Proxy database can tell you if someone is using a VPN.
3. Change to a dynamic IP address
There is some debate over whether a static IP address makes one more open to hacking.
A static IP address is often used by gamers, people who host their own websites, or individuals who sign on from remote locations whereas a dynamic IP address, on the other hand, changes regularly.
Although not everyone agrees, using a dynamic IP address may provide more protection than a static one because it does not present a constant target for hackers.
4. Update your firewall and router
Change your password on your router regularly. Don’t use the default password, which can easily be found by hackers online. It’s recommended to use a strong password consists of the combination of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and special characters with a minimum length of 8 characters.
Adjust your firewall settings so they do not allow “pings” and other contacts from unauthorized users.
5. Update your antivirus software
To prevent getting your IP address hacked and other forms of malicious activity, you need to update your antivirus/antimalware software on a regular basis.
Experts say that if you use your computer for work and receive large quantities of emails, you should perform this task every day.
New viruses multiply so quickly that if you do not update your software, it is almost worse than not having any antivirus software at all.
Better safe than sorry
Remember, knowing IP addresses is not always a sinister thing. Legitimate businesses use IP geolocation apps/services to target customer preferences, detect fraud, and manage web traffic.
But there are enough hackers out there to warrant taking basic precautions.
Even though your IP address may not lead a hacker to your personal data, the damage that can be wrought is extensive. Be smart: take the time to implement these few simple tactics in order to ward off possible IP address hacking.