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Old 18th July 2010, 08:02 AM   #1
bigred
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If someone knows your IP address, how "dangerous" is that

Realistically, how much damage can someone do to your PC that they otherwise couldn't have done if they know your IP address? Assume the PC in question has a typical set of software guards, eg spybot, AVG etc. PS yes I know they aren't fullproof, not asking about those per se. Just that a guy recently said someone knowing your IP is like giving away your SSN, but that sounds like a considerable exaggeration to me.....
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Old 18th July 2010, 08:05 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by bigred View Post
Realistically, how much damage can someone do to your PC that they otherwise couldn't have done if they know your IP address? Assume the PC in question has a typical set of software guards, eg spybot, AVG etc. PS yes I know they aren't fullproof, not asking about those per se. Just that a guy recently said someone knowing your IP is like giving away your SSN, but that sounds like a considerable exaggeration to me.....
A better analogy would be that you gave your home address.
That means he knows where to find you. That's preety much it.
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Old 18th July 2010, 08:33 AM   #3
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There are a couple of things someone could do. They could use a vulnerability scanner to probe your PC/network for weaknesses. If you keep your PC up to date with all the usual updates, as it seems you do, then this most likely won't cause you any problems.

They could also try a denial of service attack but that could land them in serious hot water with the law.
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Old 18th July 2010, 08:34 AM   #4
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They may be able to determine your GENERAL location, but nothing as precise as your physical home address.

In addition, they may try various hacks or attacks against your IP address. Just make sure you are running some sort of firewall.
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Old 18th July 2010, 08:42 AM   #5
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Don't forget that many IP addresses are dynamic these days. Knowing it once will let you know the hosting company but not much else.

Even assuming a static IP, the most they could do is target your system specifically but there are other ways of doing that.
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Old 18th July 2010, 09:35 AM   #6
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Home address is not a very good analogy if you get a dynamic adress when you connect to your provider.
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Old 18th July 2010, 09:43 AM   #7
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By itself, the attacker gets your general location. Since you're probably behind a router that is fairly secure, there's only limited threat from targeted attacks.

But as part of a blended attack, it can be troublesome. Someone attempting to impersonate you to your ISP could use that data.
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Old 18th July 2010, 10:22 AM   #8
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My tip for anyone who is told that some "internet hacker" (imagine me giggling when saying that) has their IP address:
  1. Go to your internet modem-- that's the little box your computer or router (for multiple computers) is plugged into before going into the wall and out into the interwebs-- and unplug the power cord from it.
  2. Leaving the power unplugged, go make yourself a cup of coffee or some ramen noodles or have a bowl of cereal... the point is, walk away from the thing for several minutes. The longer the better (more likely to succeed).
  3. When finished the coffee/noodles/cereal, wash the dishes. Dry your hands thoroughly.
  4. Plug the modem back into the power.
  5. Enjoy the intarwebs from a new, different IP address.

Alternatively, replace steps 2 and 3 with "go to bed and sleep" for equally (or more) effective results.
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Old 18th July 2010, 10:29 AM   #9
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That wouldn't help me very much; I've had the same ip address for around ten years. Then again, I'm not very much worried about nefarious "internet hackers", and will gladly tell anyone who asks what my address is. And last I checked, it resolves geographically to Bedford, which is around 80 miles away.
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Old 18th July 2010, 11:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GreNME View Post
My tip for anyone who is told that some "internet hacker" (imagine me giggling when saying that) has their IP address:
  1. Go to your internet modem-- that's the little box your computer or router (for multiple computers) is plugged into before going into the wall and out into the interwebs-- and unplug the power cord from it.
  2. Leaving the power unplugged, go make yourself a cup of coffee or some ramen noodles or have a bowl of cereal... the point is, walk away from the thing for several minutes. The longer the better (more likely to succeed).
  3. When finished the coffee/noodles/cereal, wash the dishes. Dry your hands thoroughly.
  4. Plug the modem back into the power.
  5. Enjoy the intarwebs from a new, different IP address.

Alternatively, replace steps 2 and 3 with "go to bed and sleep" for equally (or more) effective results.
This supposes the IP address is given out dynamic - not all ISP's do that, one of mine gave me standard a static IP address.

Secondly, you need to know the length of the lease of the dynamic IP address, that might be quite long - think days - in which case an hour, or even eight hours, doesn't cut it.
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Old 18th July 2010, 12:26 PM   #11
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Old 18th July 2010, 12:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by nimzov View Post
Home address is not a very good analogy if you get a dynamic adress when you connect to your provider.
I was simply trying to say that SSN was a bad one.

Okay, it's basically like giving the home address of your mobile trailer home.
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Old 18th July 2010, 02:12 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
This supposes the IP address is given out dynamic - not all ISP's do that, one of mine gave me standard a static IP address.

Secondly, you need to know the length of the lease of the dynamic IP address, that might be quite long - think days - in which case an hour, or even eight hours, doesn't cut it.
I get a new IP address if my modem is disconnected for only a few minutes. What happens with other people may be different.
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Old 18th July 2010, 02:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I get a new IP address if my modem is disconnected for only a few minutes. What happens with other people may be different.
I get a new IP address every time you unplug your modem for a few minutes.
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Old 18th July 2010, 02:47 PM   #15
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Which leads me to a question (that would probably be better in a new thread). I originally got a static ip, for which I pay an extra quid or two per month, so that I could VNC into my machine easily and because I was using a web server for some testing. These days I'm just using the web space that came with my domain, and syncing files is a lot easier with Mesh (or Dropbox or whatever). So it's really only VNC for which the static ip is still somewhat useful.

So I was thinking there must be some sort of way to easily enable things like VNC these days without having a static ip. If so, what is it?
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Old 18th July 2010, 02:53 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Rat View Post
So I was thinking there must be some sort of way to easily enable things like VNC these days without having a static ip. If so, what is it?
http://www.dyndns.com/
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Old 18th July 2010, 02:57 PM   #17
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Have you ever searched for your name? Your IP address is now a key to your name in a log somewhere. Have you ever ordered a product on the internet and had it shipped to you? Your IP address is now a key to your home address in a log somewhere. Have you ever viewed a web page with an ad in it served from an ad network? Both the operator of the web site and the operator of the ad network have your IP address in a log somewhere, as a key to the sites you visited.

Browser fingerprints vary pretty widely, so at the point at which a DHCP IP address changes, the browser fingerprint can be the clue that ties the old address to the new one.

This would be done by putting three facts put together: IP address A used to visit a paricular site regularly, with browser fingerprint B. As of a certain time, IP address A stopped visiting the site but now a "close" address IP address C that never showed up before starts regularly visiting the site. The visits share the browser fingerprint, B, and the two IP addresses are fairly close.

Obviously this is not proof beyond any possibility of doubt that IP addr C is the new IP address assigned to a DHCP service user who formerly had IP addr A, but it can be good evidence for a statistical analysis. This is especially true if most users have cookies. If 10,000 people are regular visitors of a web site in any given month, and 9,800 use cookies that successfully identify them, then there are only 200 quasi-anonymous site visitors. Of those 200, piecing together a story based on IP addresses and browser fingerprints may be no big data-mining chore.

This gets even easier if big popular websites share (read: sell) their weblogs for combined statistical analysis. Each site can figure out who its regular visitors are and then share the info with the others to build up a shared profile. This may not be as unlikely as it sounds, since many web sites have hosted advertisements from other companies (i.e. when you hit the web page for a site you may also pull down an ad from another site). If these ads are widely distributed, the ad companies are in a good position to cross-correlate the actions of web browsers across a wide diversity of sites. Access to more data makes the statistical determination of who’s who even easier.


Whether any of that is a Big Deal to you or not is your call.

ETA:
Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I get a new IP address if my modem is disconnected for only a few minutes. What happens with other people may be different.
My ISP used to have DHCP lease times that were so long that they were practically permanent, and they used static leasing based on the MAC address of the device connected to the modem. Unless you could spoof the MAC address of your router (or whatever), you more or less had a static IP, even though it was technically dynamic. They ceased that practice a while back, probably because they got sick of having to deal with support calls every time someone got a new router or plugged a different machine directly into the modem.
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Old 18th July 2010, 03:02 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Rat View Post

So I was thinking there must be some sort of way to easily enable things like VNC these days without having a static ip. If so, what is it?
go to

http://www.dyndns.com/

register and select a domain, ie: rat.ath.cx

Set your ip on the site.

Give your dyndns login information to your router(if it supports dyndns, a lot of routers do by now).

Alternatively i believe you can install a program on your computer to do it if your router doesn't support(at least i can for linux).
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Old 18th July 2010, 03:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by erlando View Post
That looks like just the thing. I think I'll have a play with that. Thanks.
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Old 18th July 2010, 06:18 PM   #20
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Great replies, many thx all!
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Old 19th July 2010, 06:05 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
This supposes the IP address is given out dynamic - not all ISP's do that, one of mine gave me standard a static IP address.

Secondly, you need to know the length of the lease of the dynamic IP address, that might be quite long - think days - in which case an hour, or even eight hours, doesn't cut it.
In the US, the only folks who are going to get a static IP address are business customers. Static IP accounts are far too expensive for residential customers.

As for lease times, that's all well and good but only if there aren't other machines or systems on that network all vying for addresses and having IPs handed out constantly. Unplugging the modem's power typically makes it search for a new IP first when it gets connected back to the network-- for those wondering, this is one of the reasons ISP support always has you try this before any other step-- and pulling the modem off the wider network for a few minutes is typically enough time (in the US) for the previous address to be handed out to something else, even if only temporarily.

This may not apply in all countries, but what I described is pretty much a sure thing with practically all US residential ISP connections.
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Old 19th July 2010, 11:00 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by GreNME View Post
In the US, the only folks who are going to get a static IP address are business customers. Static IP accounts are far too expensive for residential customers.

As for lease times, that's all well and good but only if there aren't other machines or systems on that network all vying for addresses and having IPs handed out constantly. Unplugging the modem's power typically makes it search for a new IP first when it gets connected back to the network-- for those wondering, this is one of the reasons ISP support always has you try this before any other step-- and pulling the modem off the wider network for a few minutes is typically enough time (in the US) for the previous address to be handed out to something else, even if only temporarily.

This may not apply in all countries, but what I described is pretty much a sure thing with practically all US residential ISP connections.
That's certainly different than my experience in Holland. My cable company (which I don't use anymore) had a very long leasetime; support said if I wanted to connect another machine to the modem (the modem was transparent for IP) I should first issue a DHCP release (or change the MAC address of the other machine). The ADSL company give me a fixed IP address to begin with. And the fiber company asked me a one-time fee of 10 Euro for a fixed IP address. I guess Dutch ISPs have less of a problem with shortage of IP addresses than US ISPs do.
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Old 19th July 2010, 11:40 AM   #23
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Yeah, after I posted I saw your location and immediately thought the same thing. Blocks of IPs are tight in the US, so leases come and go quickly when you pull a modem off the WAN.
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Old 19th July 2010, 11:35 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by GreNME View Post
In the US, the only folks who are going to get a static IP address are business customers. Static IP accounts are far too expensive for residential customers.
For DSL/Cable/Fiber connections that are live 24/7, it makes no difference. Each customer needs an IP address.
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Old 20th July 2010, 01:56 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
For DSL/Cable/Fiber connections that are live 24/7, it makes no difference. Each customer needs an IP address.
Nope, DSL and cable customers are still part of an IP block that will almost always ensure a different IP following the steps I described. For fiber customers the conditions depend on the ISP, but I can verify that AT&T's fiber service (U-Verse) will yield the non-business consumer a fresh IP following the steps I describe (I haven't verified with Verizon's service yet).

ISPs won't ensure you a static IP without an SLA, and there is no SLA (outside of "best effort") with home customer internet connections.
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Old 21st July 2010, 06:54 PM   #26
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If I want a new IP I swap network cards. I've waited days and still haven't managed to get a new IP via DHCP, even with an IP release message. This is on a cable system.
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Old 21st July 2010, 08:12 PM   #27
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I've actually discussed this with someone I've worked with, and apparently the bulk of my experience being in a fairly dense metro area isn't necessarily representative of all areas in the US. Once you get to suburban and rural areas you can indeed get your IP address stuck to you, at least for hours-long breaks in communication between your modem and the DHCP gateway.

For that, I would suggest having a consumer router that's from Linksys, D-Link, Buffalo, Netgear, or one of the other major manufacturers. In the control panel for each there is typically a page dealing with "MAC address clone" or possibly even having a setting specifically for it. Using that MAC address clone-- alternatively turning it on or off-- will definitely yield you a different IP address from your internet service provider. Takes a little bit more savvy than my earlier steps, but if you're not in an area with enough traffic to reset the IP then the easy-peasy MAC clone will do it for you nicely.
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Old 21st July 2010, 10:46 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by GreNME View Post
ISPs won't ensure you a static IP without an SLA, and there is no SLA (outside of "best effort") with home customer internet connections.
You're just wrong about that. I had a static IP address for years, residential, no "SLA." I could hook up with that company for a static IP today if I felt the need for it. Granted, you would have to go through an extra step since most phone companies don't offer it with their standard service (DSL connection with the providing company acting as ISP), but it's very doable. In fact, looking at the pricing I would pay about the same monthly fee for Qwest/independent ISP versus Qwest/Qwest.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 09:25 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Babbylonian View Post
You're just wrong about that. I had a static IP address for years, residential, no "SLA." I could hook up with that company for a static IP today if I felt the need for it. Granted, you would have to go through an extra step since most phone companies don't offer it with their standard service (DSL connection with the providing company acting as ISP), but it's very doable. In fact, looking at the pricing I would pay about the same monthly fee for Qwest/independent ISP versus Qwest/Qwest.
See my last post. I was going by the traffic on a relatively large metro area, and admitted that this is not so in smaller traffic regions.

But you also have to be aware that you are not getting a guaranteed static IP with your service. Change the MAC and your IP will very likely change. It may stay the same for a very long time, even long enough for you to rely on it as a constant, but there is no guarantee from your ISP that it will remain the same. That does require a service agreement.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 10:29 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by GreNME View Post
See my last post. I was going by the traffic on a relatively large metro area, and admitted that this is not so in smaller traffic regions.

But you also have to be aware that you are not getting a guaranteed static IP with your service. Change the MAC and your IP will very likely change. It may stay the same for a very long time, even long enough for you to rely on it as a constant, but there is no guarantee from your ISP that it will remain the same. That does require a service agreement.
Three different routers, same IP address throughout (again, several years). And Portland, Oregon is indeed a "relatively large" metro area (582,000 in the city and 2.2 million in the metro area according to the Wikiality).
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Old 22nd July 2010, 01:46 PM   #31
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I'm not attempting to insult your city's size or anything, I'm talking about the density. I'm currently in the greater Philadelphia area and I would consider this far less dense than where I lived previously.

But if you want to pick at nits, compared to the Dallas/Ft Worth metro area, there is a noticeable difference in density, size, and area. I lived in one of the less-dense parts of that metroplex (Duncanville) and still had the results I described with AT&T's fiber service.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 01:51 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by GreNME View Post
My tip for anyone who is told that some "internet hacker" (imagine me giggling when saying that) has their IP address:
  1. Go to your internet modem-- that's the little box your computer or router (for multiple computers) is plugged into before going into the wall and out into the interwebs-- and unplug the power cord from it.
  2. Leaving the power unplugged, go make yourself a cup of coffee or some ramen noodles or have a bowl of cereal... the point is, walk away from the thing for several minutes. The longer the better (more likely to succeed).
  3. When finished the coffee/noodles/cereal, wash the dishes. Dry your hands thoroughly.
  4. Plug the modem back into the power.
  5. Enjoy the intarwebs from a new, different IP address.

Alternatively, replace steps 2 and 3 with "go to bed and sleep" for equally (or more) effective results.
Actually if you have a dynamic address, disconnecting and reconnecting immediately afterward worked for me every time I tried it. No need to waste time disconnecting the modem, preparing food, eating and such needless and wasteful activities

I think it's because when you disconnect, your IP is not immediately registered as available by the ISP, and you automatically get a new one when you attempt to reconnect. It could also be just my ISP, though. I've always liked that anyway

McHrozni
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Old 22nd July 2010, 01:56 PM   #33
GreNME
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Originally Posted by McHrozni View Post
Actually if you have a dynamic address, disconnecting and reconnecting immediately afterward worked for me every time I tried it. No need to waste time disconnecting the modem, preparing food, eating and such needless and wasteful activities

I think it's because when you disconnect, your IP is not immediately registered as available by the ISP, and you automatically get a new one when you attempt to reconnect. It could also be just my ISP, though. I've always liked that anyway
That depends on whether your modem holds a lease and whether the gateway DHCP server (for your modem... your modem is the gateway for your house) hangs on to the MAC of your device in the house. What can also make a difference is whether your ISP-issued modem is handing your house router a private or public address.

I know what the other folks are saying-- I've been able to reproduce it now-- but I think that they're attributing too much significance to what is otherwise still a non-guaranteed and changeable dynamic address.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 05:57 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by McHrozni View Post
Actually if you have a dynamic address, disconnecting and reconnecting immediately afterward worked for me every time I tried it. No need to waste time disconnecting the modem, preparing food, eating and such needless and wasteful activities

I think it's because when you disconnect, your IP is not immediately registered as available by the ISP, and you automatically get a new one when you attempt to reconnect. It could also be just my ISP, though. I've always liked that anyway

McHrozni
Dynamic addresses are (virtually) always managed by DHCP. That means, when you connect the modem, it sends a DHCP request to the gateway of the cable/ADSL company; this request is basically a request for an arbitrary IP address. The gateway runs a DHCP server (*), and sends a DHCP acknowledgement back, which contains the IP address and the length of the lease. The DHCP server also registers the lease in its database, so it won't give out the same IP address while the lease is still valid. This database registers to which MAC address the IP address is given. The MAC address is the unique 48-bits address that every network card gets out of the factory.

Just before the lease time expires, your modem sends another DHCP request, in which it now specifically asks for the IP address it already got. The DHCP server grants this and renewes the lease. And so on ad infinitum.

When you reboot your modem somewhere halfway during the lease, the DHCP server still has the lease in its database, so when your modem then asks for an arbitrary IP address, the DHCP still sees the modem's MAC address in its database and gives you back the IP address you had before the reboot.

(*) or another machine of the cable/ADSL company that the gateway forwards the DHCP requests to.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 06:08 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by GreNME View Post
My tip for anyone who is told that some "internet hacker" (imagine me giggling when saying that) has their IP address:
  1. Go to your internet modem-- that's the little box your computer or router (for multiple computers) is plugged into before going into the wall and out into the interwebs-- and unplug the power cord from it.
  2. Leaving the power unplugged, go make yourself a cup of coffee or some ramen noodles or have a bowl of cereal... the point is, walk away from the thing for several minutes. The longer the better (more likely to succeed).
  3. When finished the coffee/noodles/cereal, wash the dishes. Dry your hands thoroughly.
  4. Plug the modem back into the power.
  5. Enjoy the intarwebs from a new, different IP address.

Alternatively, replace steps 2 and 3 with "go to bed and sleep" for equally (or more) effective results.

Ha I say to you!

I know your IP address. It's 127.0.0.1.

Unplug your computer for a year.

Change ISPs.

I can still ping you and launch DOS attacks against your weak 127.0.0.1 address!

Muahaha!
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Old 22nd July 2010, 06:15 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Ha I say to you!

I know your IP address. It's 127.0.0.1.

Unplug your computer for a year.

Change ISPs.

I can still ping you and launch DOS attacks against your weak 127.0.0.1 address!

Muahaha!
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Old 22nd July 2010, 06:22 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Ha I say to you!

I know your IP address. It's 127.0.0.1.

Unplug your computer for a year.

Change ISPs.

I can still ping you and launch DOS attacks against your weak 127.0.0.1 address!

Muahaha!
Anybody have a link to the userfriendly comic where Miranda fools a stupid hacker into shutting down his own computer with that?
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Old 22nd July 2010, 07:05 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
Anybody have a link to the userfriendly comic where Miranda fools a stupid hacker into shutting down his own computer with that?
I never heard that one. I'd love to see it.


I remember a WebTV guy (remember WebTV?) threatening to send everyone his killer batch file:

Format C: /y

He was gonna email this to people he didn't like, and they would just run it no questions asked

Ah, WebTV. Good times. Good times.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 07:06 PM   #39
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http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20010523

there's no place like 127.0.0.1
(there's no place like ~/ either)

ETA:

http://xkcd.com/742/
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Last edited by negativ; 22nd July 2010 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 08:02 PM   #40
rjh01
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Ha I say to you!

I know your IP address. It's 127.0.0.1.

Unplug your computer for a year.

Change ISPs.

I can still ping you and launch DOS attacks against your weak 127.0.0.1 address!

Muahaha!
In case anyone does not understand the above I give you the link below to spoil the joke.

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