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How to Find Someone’s Exact Location Given His IP Address

Looking up a physical location given an IP address has many purposes. For marketing professionals, it aims to tailor-fit campaigns to customers. For cybersecurity professionals, it is meant to protect the integrity of their websites and businesses against cyber threats.

Finding One’s Exact Location Via a Mobile IP Address

Similar to how telecommunications carriers can track users via their phone numbers, cybersecurity professionals can locate individuals via their mobile devices’ IP addresses at the time these individuals access certain sites. However, most publicly available IP address databases only provide users with a rough estimate of someone’s location. Finding one’s exact location on the basis of an IP address is still a daunting task. Often, using an IP geolocation lookup service is more accurate, though it can still be off by a few miles.

For instance, a user on a mobile data network will often have an IP address issued by the cellular service provider. That IP address points to the provider’s corporate office. How does this work? Each carrier owns a range of IP addresses that it dynamically assigns to users when they connect and disconnect from its mobile network. This approach makes precise identification of an individual user nearly impossible.

Identifying the city the mobile phone is in could be accurate, but determining an exact street address is harder to do. This caveat is exacerbated when a user chooses to use a virtual private network (VPN) or other routing technology to maintain privacy.

A more reliable way to identify someone’s exact location is to use static IP addresses that are connected to a physical router. If, for instance, you are tracking someone in a restaurant, it would be best to go through the establishment’s IP logs to look for a particular device.

Finding a House Using an IP Address

It is possible to use an IP address to look for specific information about a user. When it comes to finding a house address, an IP address could provide a rough estimate. Country, state, and city information are accurate, but finding an exact home address is only possible when you work with an Internet service provider (ISP).

Why is that, you may wonder? ISPs collect and store their subscribers’ IP addresses but they won’t readily give it out to anyone. Cybersecurity professionals need a court order to make that happen. While ISPs can readily identify the subscriber associated with an IP address, they cannot give you concrete information about the person who was involved a particular online activity.

Uses of IP Geolocation Services

One way of getting as much information about the physical location of a user based on their IP address is to use an IP geolocation service. Most IP geolocation providers can give you location information for any desired user, along with their ISP. Performing an IP address lookup can give cybersecurity experts a crucial starting point to help them verify the origin of a dubious online activity. Some of the valuable information they can get from an IP geolocation tool includes country, state, city, time zone, latitude and longitude coordinates, and ISP. This data can help in cybersecurity functions that include:

Preventing Credit Card Fraud

Any user’s IP geolocation information can be compared with his shipping or billing address. A clear discrepancy in the city, state, and country location is already a strong indication of potential fraud. Fraud investigators can follow this up with a manual check and place restrictions if necessary to prevent fraudulent transactions. If the card owner isn’t traveling at the time a dubious transaction occurs, someone else could be using his credit card without his permission.

Enforcing Digital Content and Territorial Rights

Several media-streaming services use digital rights management (DRM) tools to limit user access. By using a subscriber’s IP address, they can prevent unauthorized users from accessing content no matter where they may be.

Verifying Threat Sources

Cybersecurity professionals often have to deal with identified threat sources after an attack. In these cases, they can block all IP addresses that have ties to the threat actors to prevent further damage.

Blocking Suspicious Emails

Cybersecurity specialists can activate geoblocking for emails coming from IP addresses in high-risk regions. This method effectively reduces the possibility of dangerous emails infiltrating an organization’s defenses. Companies often have specified IP ranges or blocks. That said, if an attacker uses a partner’s name as the sender, you can easily check if their IP address matches that of his supposed company origin. This approach is especially effective in cases of business email compromise (BEC).

How to find someone’s exact location with an IP address is a problem that requires a reliable solution. For now, though not 100% accurate, the best way for cybersecurity experts to locate a person of interest is still by using an IP geolocation API with the highest accuracy rating.

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