Many people think that all IP addresses are pretty much the same. Of course, the numbers change but fundamentally one address is very much like another. To some extent if we roll back the clock a couple of decades that would be true but in the new era of the internet – your IP address says quite a bit about you.
IT’s difficult to imaging that those random looking numbers in the format 192.168.1.1 have any real significance, but i’s actually become more important. For example if you have the IP address – 18.104.22.168 I could easily determine a few facts including your location and who you use as an internet provider.
The specified address for example comes from a range assigned to Nigeria, so anyone using it is based in Nigeria or relaying through a server based there. As it’s unlikely anyone would get any real advantage from using a Nigerian IP address then it’s probably that’s their real location. Although some people do use Nigerian proxies for various semi-legal or criminal activities simply because law enforcement standards are fairly low there.
Websites will use this information for all sorts of reasons, although commonly marketing is the main driver. Although IP addresses are also used extensively to restrict access. For example if you try and post an advert on a US Craigslist site with a Nigerian IP address then you’ll simply get blocked.
Our IP addresses control what we can access and to some extent our online experience. A digital entrepreneur from somewhere like India or Nigeria will have a much harder time than one from Chicago for example. Access to marketing sites, advertising and payment processors will be much more difficult. Nigeria’s reputation for online scams and fraud unfortunately makes life much more difficult for all their honest entrepreneurs too.
Which is why many such people use proxies in order to hide their true IP address and take advantage of a new one. Our digital marketer in Nigeria may for example want to buy lots of trendy US merchandise to import and resell online, he won’t have much luck with a Nigerian address. However by renting a proxy he can operate online with a UK or European address quite easily. He may get to a more advanced level and use rotating residential proxies to buy stock from restricted releases like concert tickets or sneakers.
This in just one example but it illustrates the growing market in private proxies and VPNs designed to allow people to operate without these restrictions online. Business people aren’t the only ones which use these services to hide their location. There’s an even bigger market for ordinary people who just want to access movies, films and videos which are also blocked based on your location. This post illustrates how a special method using name resolution and proxies can be used to access the BBC online – check it out it’s called BBC iPlayer DNS. The method involves routing selected packets through a UK proxy based on specific DNS requests. So the DNS server would wait until it sees a request for a geo-restricted site like the BBC only then route through a UK server so it worked properly.