How Does My IP Address Affect Different Services?

You’ve probably heard the term IP address before but you likely aren’t fully aware of all the ways it is used. Or misused by various entities. Or how you can turn an IP address to your own advantage by taking control of who gets to use it.

An internet protocol (IP) address is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the internet protocol for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing. Its role has been characterized as follows: ”A name indicates what we seek. An address indicates where it is. A route indicates how to get there.”

When you visit a website, the website knows your IP address. When you send email or sign up for something online or use any internet-based service, the site knows your IP address. Your IP address matters to many sites for many reasons. Search engines want to know your IP address so they can serve up local search options and local ads and present themselves in the language (English or Chinese etc) associated with the IP address. Retailers want to know your IP address for security reasons.

Various online vendors—such as ecommerce sites, ad networks or retargeting services– want to know your IP address because they may sell web-based products specific to your location or country or browsing history. In some cases, the company may sell products or downloads that may be regulated by specific laws in that country. For example, downloads of copyright-protected content may fall under specific regulations with a particular country and any service that sells that content.

I came across a recent forum post asking the following question and thought the answer would be helpful to my readers: “I have Netflix Canada, but it doesn’t have all the shows that Netflix USA has. 1. Someone said Hotspot Shield would make it appear that I have a U.S. computer IP address (IPS? ISP?). Can anyone give a definitive answer on this? 2. How safe is this Hotspot Shield and would it work?”

So to answer the first question, Yes, Hotspot Shield, when installed on a PC, laptop, Mac or mobile device will use a US-based IP address when running. (If you have the paid version of their service, you can also choose IPs from other countries.) And in answer to the second question,Yes, Hotspot Shield is safe in regard to protecting your data as it travels over the Hotspot Shield VPN. And “would it work”…well, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Whether you want to use it in the manner the questioner is proposing is up to you. Keep in mind that the company may have a good reason for placing that restriction in the first place.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was StolenSee him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

On July 9th Millions May Lose Access To Internet

As reported in March, the FBI has uncovered a network of rogue DNS servers and has taken steps to disable them. DNS (Domain Name System) is an Internet service that converts user-friendly domain names into the numerical Internet protocol (IP) addresses that computers use to talk to each other.

When you enter a domain name, such as, in your browser address bar, your computer contacts DNS servers to determine the IP address for the website. Your computer then uses this IP address to locate and connect to the website.

DNSChanger is malicious software created by cybercriminals to redirect the Internet traffic of millions of unsuspecting users to websites where the thieves have profited from advertisements. All computers still infected with DNSChanger malware will no longer be able to access websites, email, chat, or social networking sites like Facebook after July 9th.

Most of us will have a difficult time manually changing these settings on our own. To help with this, McAfee has released a free tool to you find out if you are infected or not.

To see if you are infected with the DNSChanger virus visit then click on the “Check Now” button. If your computer is fine, you will receive a green check message and if your computer is infected you will see a red X mark. You can then download a free update to clean up your PC and restore your Internet settings.

It is quite possible that if your computer is infected with this malware, it may also be infected with other malware. To protect yourself you should:

 Make sure your PC has comprehensive protection with antivirus, antispyware, anti-phishing, antispam and a firewall

Set up regular updates of your operating system so you get critical security patches and keep your browser updated too

Be cautious of clicking links in the body of an email

Stay safe!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)