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How did they find me?

Yesterday I visited a site in the US, which greeted me by mentioning the obscure little village in Europe where my computer is connected to the Internet. I’ve never been to this site before and found the situation a bit scary. What kind of software can retrieve this information?
Jorgen Brenting Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
There are hundreds of IP-Geolocation databases.
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=ip+geolocation

If you're concerned, you'll need to browse through a proxy, anonomizer, or IP spoof. But overall you shouldn't be concerned. Webmasters LIKE to know where in the world their traffic is coming from. It helps them identify where to physically situate their web servers.
PWills Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
Yes, I can understand country and ISP – but the name of my village? Doesn’t this involve more than an IP database?
I can see both god and bad things coming from the ability to pinpoint every computer on Earth?
Jorgen Brenting Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
It's still a database, although it seems a very detailed one. Your IP is actually owned by your ISP, who bought a few groups of IPs, one for every village where they operate. This is public information.
smalltalk Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
Thanks guys, I’ll try to see this from the positive aspect.
Jorgen Brenting Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
"I can see both god and bad things coming from the ability to pinpoint every computer on Earth?"

They can make an educated guess to your location, but they don't know for sure. So even if they happen to be correct, they don't know that, so it's not a big deal.
Ed
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
I was actually supprised by this on a couple of sites - the banner ads had 'look for your ideal match in Schaumburg' which is a suburb just a couple of miles away.

I finally realized that the head-end for Comcast (my cable ISP) in this area is in Schaumburg and that they were assuming that they'd be close by finding out where my IP was from.

This works in a lot of cases, but IP addresses don't have to be assigned to a specific location.  A lot of large companies just reserve a block for the entire company, regardless of the various locations.

This is also the way that the website for the cable channel Showtime(IIRC) checks the origin of visitors and only allows in people located in the US (or using a US IP address).
RocketJeff Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
As PWills said, there's a ton of different geo-location IP databases out there these days.

One weird thing I've seen a few times is when a site reports my location but gets it totally wrong.

I live in a rural town in central Victoria, Australia. There's a much, much bigger town with exactly the same name in tropical Queensland -- and many sites have indicated that I live in the Queensland town, not the Victorian town. They get the town name right, but the location totally wrong.
Andrew Lighten Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
Jorgen, if you are from a tiny village, know that you have limited anonymity on the net. Tracking algorithms are real good at finding people under those circumstances, so don't assume you have anonymity on the net unless you are at a minimum going through a proxy.
Art Wilkins
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
Find women who want to meet you in Gilleleje.
Art Wilkins
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
Eh, Google has your search history, email, and a satellite photo of your house. What's not to worry about?

:)



Think of the internet as a giant public library and bookstore combined - you may be sitting in your living room in your underpants, but in reality you're out there in cyberspace where lots of people can watch what you're doing. As long as you remember that they can see your underpants, you'll be fine. If you want to run a clandestine resistance movement against the evil oppressors, don't do it in a public place known to be frequented by the (not so secret) police.

(Ok, so that was a terrible thing to do to an innocent metaphor. And the word "reality" will be contacting amnesty international to complain about being tortured. Deal with it. ;)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
Every now and then I come across a web site that tells me there are hundreds of young women in my city who want to meet me.

Where were they when I was young and single?
MBJ Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
Wel, blank makes a good point. There is a reason bin Laden communicates by pigeons and foot messenger.
Art Wilkins
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
I'm glad I don't wear underpants with little hearts all over them.
Kyralessa Send private email
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
"Every now and then I come across a web site that tells me there are hundreds of young women in my city who want to meet me."

I know those ads, they do IP lookup and put random "hottie" pictures over randomly-picked "screen names" with your city to get you to click on the ad. I remember seeing one of the "hotties" (she was my type) that "lived" in my town, then I went on business to Florida and while surfing in the hotel saw the same girl now in my Florida town.

+1 for cleverness, -3 for annoyance.
John
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
 
 
So did you call her? It sounds like she likes you.

Or maybe... she is a stalker.
Art Wilkins
Thursday, February 23, 2006
 
 
Art:
Of course you can google your way to me with a little effort based on my name in the first post here - that's not what worries me. But if you can find my tiny village in other ways (based on my post which doesn't even have my name with the correct European letters in it), I find the perspective a bit scary.
Jorgen B.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
 
 
Jorgen,

The thing is on the internet you have no privacy unless you go to some extremes. Cookies track you pretty well and even if using an alias, most people at some time have given their correct address and name to some ecommerce site.

There was a study that showed with a name, birthdate and ip address, it was possible to get the unique TRW credit report of 80% of visitors. So even just a little information you type into a web forum can be used to find your complete medical records, your sexual preferences (from when you surf porn), and the price you paid for each of your cars.
Art Wilkins
Thursday, February 23, 2006
 
 

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