Those who have frequented conspiracy theory chat rooms in the late nineties might remember the idea that ‘’the Government’’ will place us all in FEMA camps and place a chip inside us that will track our every movement. Well, little did they know that we will be paying good money to carry a geo IP tracker around in our pocket willingly, and would become quite angry when it’s not working so that we can call an Uber.
While ranting about Geo-tracking and Geo IP location might sound paranoid, there is actually a good reason why you might want to have your location services masked, or blocked entirely.
Needing to type-in your location when ordering an Uber or Dominos is a small price to pay for salvation as you will be saved from spreading your private data and personal IP address everywhere.
Thankfully, masking your GeoIP location is as easy as hiding your IP. If you are using a VPN, you can connect through a foreign server and exchange your geographic location to the one of said server. And, if you are using a premium VPN provider like Le VPN, you can even connect your whole home to a VPN router, protecting all of your devices.
How IP Addresses Show Your Geographic Location?
An IP address works in a similar way as an address for a physical residence. Not to enter the dot-decimal explanation too much, the further you go down the numbers the closer to your home you will come, from the main subnet to your internet service provider, to your home modem. And, there is a non-conspiracy explanation for that.
Before we had personal names and brand names for web places, there were numbers. In the early days of the internet, it wasn’t enough to type in a part of a website name and let Google finish it off, but you had to input all of the data needed. This included the full IP address, as well as some additional data.
While the UI for this system has been changed for a DNS naming system, the IP addresses are still given in the same order.
If you are using mobile, the address will not show your exact location, but rather the tower or access point you are connecting to.
Thankfully, if you know what is a VPN, you will be able to protect yourself quite easily from all risk connected to geolocation data.
What Is Geo IP Used for?
Knowing where people are when they access the internet can be quite beneficial and is the sort of data companies and governments fight over regularly.
For which purpose your IP location will be used will depend heavily on the approach your government has towards sharing this sort of information with others. For governments and countries that value privacy, ISPs will be able to share your location when subpoenaed by a court.
This might be because there is a suspicion that a crime has been committed, or is investigating some type of fraud. Companies like MaxMind even specialize in fraud prevention by using IP geolocation data.
Additionally, companies might use the geographic significance of IP addresses to serve targeted ads, as well as pricing. For instance, companies might market bottled water only to western Arizona, and for a higher price, as they know, it is an arid place with low precipitation.
Finally, the Geo IP will be used to provide you with specific civil services. If you are contacting an emergency number online, your IP will be used to determine which local emergency option you will get.
Apart from all of the issues IP location might have for our cybersecurity, there are the technical reasons why they exist.
Primarily, it is the best way for your computer to be able to find a web place quickly and without flaking too often. Your modem will then present its own IP address and thus gain access to the website, server, app, or some other data stored online.
Additionally, it eases the nomenclature of devices quite a bit. In any other case, there would be a need for a global regulating body to give out specific addresses, which is impossible as the Imperium of Man is not yet a thing.
With an IP address, each specific region can get a predetermined number of codes, bought by the ISPs and companies, and distributed to their customers.
In addition to the computers needing your IP address to communicate and your IP location to know where to send the packets, there are also some valid reasons why a company or a public service might want to see and store your geo IP.
First of all, if you are subscribed to a local service, the service provider should be able to ensure that you are, in fact, local. This doesn’t include Uber, as that service works via GPS location, but does include local news.
An important feature that uses IP information are Amber Alerts that help find missing children that are missing in an exact location.
Finally, some civic and legal options are possible with geotargeting, such as voting and expressing your opinion about local and municipal matters. Allowing only IP addresses from a specific geographic location to cast their vote will prevent foreign meddling.
It would be naïve to think that businesses would not find a way to use any bit of data they can gather about you into an advantage. While we may see this as annoying, it is to be expected and is not illegal most of the time.
But, there is a significant split in good and bad business practices when it comes to IP geolocation data.
On one side, there are those who use publically available information about IP locations to tailor their services and their marketing better. However, bothersome, this is legitimate.
Then there are companies that are not satisfied with the publically available data and want to squeeze even more information from you. These firms will collect your IP address as you enter their website and try to fill out a puzzle concerning your buying habits.
This is why you will often hear cybersecurity experts telling you not to give out your email and phone number to a company under any circumstances.
While cybercriminals are the main threat when it comes to geotracking and protecting your personal information, they are not the only ones you should be wary about. Governments and corporations don’t have a goal to steal or misuse your data but have regular leaks.
Also, no government or corporation can guarantee that none of their employees will become tempted at some point. Humans are known to be terminally human, and mistakes do happen. And then there are disgruntled employees that want such a thing to happen, as was the case with Singapore’s HAS.
Criminals and hackers will want to collect your location for various reasons, mainly because it can lead to other information. In the case of data thieves, they will use your geo IP to figure out your ISP and bank, trying to fool customer support to give out the rest of your personal data.
Finally, some actual burglars and criminals may use your IP address and location data to pinpoint when you are home or not. This way, they can know if they can safely enter your home, or worse. This doesn’t require any serious hacking know-how, as you can find a GeoIP lookup tool online.
Illegal Data Harvests
In the end, the biggest threat doesn’t come from our geolocation data alone.
There are a lot of people that trust companies with their information and believe that every large company has some sort of state-of-the-art cybersecurity system that is unbreakable. These companies don’t store just your longitude-latitude coordinates, but your name, phone, credit card information, and purchase history on record making their leaks very dangerous.
Facebook leaked more than half a billion user records in 2019 just because of poor security, and they are an IT colossus with a fully staffed cybersecurity department. The worst thing is, the same happened to them in 2018 for around fifty million users, which shows a pattern.
Hackers know that companies store a lot of data, making them tempting targets. Even though less than one in a million attempted hacks work, which is more than enough to endanger the system.
Risks of GeoIP Locating
While your location data is mostly used by either your own modem or entities that collect your IP address for all types of purposes, the risks are almost entirely on you and your devices.
Generally, these risks can be divided into three major categories.
The first type would be the mild risks and annoyances that can occur from being flooded by ads and messages, as well as price manipulation. If you are sharing your IP address, and thus your location, with a service, they might notice it and raise prices of that service in your area.
The second type are the moderate risks that can already damage your system and security quite a bit. These consider your private data and accounts, as well as business files and information. If you have a solid cybersecurity system and keep your VPN on, this will not become a huge issue. And, if you need your IP to watch your smart TV, it would be better to use a premium VPN provider like Le VPN, which offer a SmartDNS service than to disengage the VPN altogether.
Finally, there are some quite severe risks and the main reason why you should avoid sharing your geo IP location, mainly those that refer to your personal security. Telling people where you are at all times might attract stalkers, burglars, as well as kidnappers, which is all much more sinister than anyone stealing your money online.
Disadvantages of Open Geolocation Data
Aside from the risks, there are also technical and user-related disadvantages to leaving your IP address connected to your real location.
The same way companies will target your area for certain ads and promotions they can also lock you out of all kinds of services and content. This is mostly visible with streaming services such as YouTube or Netflix but can have other consequences as well.
Depending on your country’s laws and policies, whole sections of the internet might be blocked, and if you want to watch unrestricted YouTube, you will need to use a VPN to change your location.
Geo-tracking today is very easy, as it is possible to find our phones and mobile devices through multiple channels. Additionally, through using simple free IP geolocation API, someone with our ipv4 or ipv6 address might discover the exact primary ISP router that we are connecting to.
While we are all doing our best to lead fake lives that will get us followers on Twitter and Instagram, having people actually following your steps is creepy and should be avoided.
There are few things as annoying as wanting to play a music video on YouTube and seeing that it is unavailable in your region.
If you want to unblock YouTube UK comedians or Russians dangling off buildings (yes, that is a thing), you will need to use your VPN to move to a different location.
Finally, if you want to access foreign databases for video streaming services, this will be the best way to do so without resorting to dodgy websites with probably bootlegged content.
If you are interested to see how Japanese anime creators see Italian mobsters, there is no other way than to connect to the Le VPN server in Japan and search JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Not being able to watch weird anime is the epitome of a first world problem. There are many countries on this Planet that ban all sorts of content for all kinds of reasons.
Primarily, there are political reasons. For instance, even this text would be flagged and banned in the People’s Republic of China if we were to mention a certain event that transpired thirty years ago.
Afterward, there are religious reasons, ranging from predictable to outright ridiculous. Some countries even ban Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch due to symbols of witchcraft.
Finally, most countries worldwide censor content that is deemed harmful to public morale or promotes illegal acts.
While the USA is undoubtedly the home of the free and the land of the brave, it is also the residence of the surveyed. With the US government constantly collecting and assessing data from its citizens through various channels.
While there were no public breaches or leaks in NSA databases concerning private citizens monitored by the PRISM system, but that doesn’t mean that some future Edward Snowden won’t be more interested in selling private information to the highest bidder than disclosing government scandals.
Time to Move!
For anyone using a premium VPN, it is a good time to change their geo IP location to somewhere else. And, those using Le VPN have more than 100+ locations to choose from, all with military-grade encrypted servers.
Technically, you can select the server that is closest to you if you are interested only in the security features. But, if you ever want to try out the full potential of a VPN, you should try connecting to a server stationed abroad.
Can You Move All Your Devices with a VPN?
Although you may have VPN access on your desktop, laptop, and mobile, it is possible that those are not all of your devices. As the number of IoT appliances grows, it becomes hard to keep track of what is connecting to the internet and what isn’t.
Thankfully, this is easy to solve. You can now install a VPN router that will channel all of your WiFi connection through a VPN server, protecting and encrypting everything.
Don’t Forget Mobile
When it comes to Geo IP location and services, your primary mobile devices, usually your smartphone, should be your main concern. Not only is your phone, something that shows your location while you are on the move, it usually has more than enough private information inside to completely disclose your identity.
Modern mobile phones do have advanced security features and combined with an anti-virus app and a VPN app you will be safe. But, modern mobile phones also keep much more private data inside. Apart from your banking information, passwords, and personal info, new phones also store your biometric data, which is really something you don’t want to share around.
As with most things, geo IP data is not evil in its essence. The location noted in the IP address is used as a tool and can have quite a bit of advantages. But, as is the case with every other tool, it can easily become a weapon when in wrong hands.
The good thing is that not only it is easy to protect yourself by using a premium VPN, but if you are using a provider such as Le VPN you will be able to unlock the full potential of Geo IP by accessing different content and browsing freely and safely.
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