If you are a keen tech-user, then you will probably be very familiar with all the various terminology that comes along with the internet. With all the acronyms used, internet language is essentially jargon, and it can take a while to get used to what everything means.
And even when you get used to what everything means, it can still be difficult to understand all the rules and regulations surrounding these terms.
One point of confusion is often IP addresses. These addresses can be used to track users through public networks, and it can also be used by hackers to access private data and corrupt devices.
In most cases, your IP address will be public, and accessible by anyone who knows how to find it. This is why IP pulling (or grabbing) is a thing.
But even though it is definitely a thing, is IP pulling even legal? In this quick guide, we’ll be answering this question and lots more. So, to find out, keep on reading.
What is IP Pulling/Grabbing?
You might be reading this and wondering, ‘what on Earth is IP pulling?’, and it is a fair question to ask. Even if you know a little about internet jargon, you might not be familiar with what this terminology means, so let’s take a look at what IP pulling/grabbing is before we go any further.
IP pulling (or grabbing) is an act that is often carried out by big businesses and corporations. This act often uses a third party service, which is usually an app or a plug-in, to grab your IP address. There are plenty of these third party services around, but one of the most famous is undoubtedly ‘Grabify’.
The person or business that has authorized the IP grabbing will usually run this over a vast amount of devices, allowing them to grab the IP address of multiple different users. It is very rare for a single individual to be targeted. You might be wondering why anyone would want to access IP addresses, and that is a good question, so let’s take a look.
What is the Point of IP Pulling/Grabbing?
As we have said, you might now be wondering what the reasoning behind IP pulling and grabbing is. But, to really understand this, you need to know what an IP is and what this information can offer. So, let’s take a look at that.
An IP address is an ‘Internet Protocol’ address. This address is a numerical label, and it is assigned to every device that connects to an internet network.
The IP address is incredibly important as it allows the device to communicate with the network to access things, and prevents you from accessing things that you are not allowed to see. This IP address can also be used to track the physical location of a device, if you know what you are doing.
This still doesn’t really explain why someone might want to grab your IP address, so let’s explain this. When an individual, or company, has access to your IP address, they can then target you and your device specifically. Your IP address will provide access to a lot of your sensitive information, and this will then give the person who grabbed it access to this information too.
As we have said, the majority of IP pulling/grabbing is completed by companies. Companies target their users to grab their IP addresses, as this allows them to create a link which they can send to you in order to try to drive sales. But, some companies will grab IP addresses in a more malicious way.
Some companies set up IP grabbing so that they can target these addresses with phishing attacks. You have probably heard of phishing before, because it is very common, but let’s just quickly explain in case you haven’t. Phishing attacks are just one type of hacking. These attacks include the sending of a fraudulent email or message that is designed to trick you.
Hackers using phishing emails usually pretend to be trusted contacts, such as banks, colleges, phone network providers, etc. as this will increase the probability of you clicking on the link within the message. When you click on the link, you will usually be tricked into providing sensitive information, such as bank details and home addresses.
Alternatively, some phishing attacks will instead install malicious software onto your computer or device, which will then hack into it and damage it. So, while IP grabbing can sometimes be used for good, it can also be used for bad, so is it legal?
Is Pulling (Grabbing) IPs Illegal?
So, while IP grabbing can be handy for some businesses, it is clear that it can also be used for dodgy dealings. So, is this activity legal or illegal? Let’s take a look.
No, it is not illegal to pull/grab IP addresses, this is a perfectly legal activity. There are no laws that prevent anyone from targeting people using an IP grabbing tool, and there is nothing preventing you from targeting a sole IP address individually.
This is mainly because your IP address is public information, just like your full name, cell phone number, or street address. As soon as that information is put online, it becomes public information, and anyone who knows how can access it.
Like we have said, IP grabbing is something that is usually completed by businesses looking for new customers. So, if you want to use an IP grabbing tool in a B2B (Business to Business) situation, this is perfectly legal. The regulations surrounding business data are very sparse, so pretty much everything goes in a B2B context.
But, in a B2C (Business to Consumer) situation, the regulations are a little more unclear. While IP grabbing is not illegal, it definitely could be considered immoral. So, before you start using this as a tool to access new customers, you might want to question if this is what you want your company to be known for.
In short, no, pulling/grabbing IP addresses is not illegal. However, this act could be considered immoral depending on the reason why you are IP grabbing. So it is important to bear this in mind before you do it.