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Tip of the Week: Protect Your Network By Blacklisting Malicious IP Addresses

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Like your fingerprint, your computer’s IP address holds the key to your identity. Okay, it may not be as unique as your fingerprint, and you may actually use multiple IP addresses every day, but still, your IP address says a lot about you. What do you need to know about your IP address?

How to Determine Your IP Address
To understand what your IP address is all about, you first have to know what it is. Doing this is as simple as visiting the website Tracemyip.com. Upon visiting this URL, the site will display a string of numbers that may appear random, but they actually serve an important purpose as far as your Internet browsing is concerned.

What’s an IP Address Anyway?
Gartner’s IT Glossary defines an IP (Internet Protocol) address as such:

A unique number assigned by an Internet authority that identifies a computer on the Internet. The number consists of four groups of numbers between 0 and 255, separated by periods (dots). For example, 195.112.56.75 is an IP address.

From the perspective of a business owner who’s overseeing a network full of sensitive data, IP addresses serve as a valuable security component because they inform you who is accessing your data, or at least, what computer the address originates from. Like footprints from a walk, all traffic on your network leaves behind IP addresses in a log. Therefore, checking your network activity logs is an easy way to spot if you’ve been visited by someone that doesn’t belong.

How to Find Out Where an IP Address is From
For example, an IP address can trace a computer back to its country of origin. Red flags include IP addresses originating from:

  • Countries with a reputation for harboring hackers.
  • Your competition.
  • Former employees.
  • Foreign country that your business has absolutely nothing to do with.

To find out information like this, you can easily copy and paste the IP address in question into a form found here: WhatIsMyIPAddress.com/ip-lookup.

A free online tool like this won’t provide you with super specific information about the IP Address, like a street address or user name, but it will at least narrow it down to what country or region the IP Address originates from, as well as:

  • The ISP and organization’s name.
  • The IP’s host name.
  • The city (a best guess).
  • The latitude and longitude of the location (a best guess).
  • The area code for that region.
  • Any known services running on that IP.

Why You Should Care about IP Addresses
Of course, hackers have caught on to the fact that they can be tracked down by their IP addresses, which is why high-level hackers go to extra lengths to bounce their signal from different routers around the globe before accessing your network. Using this method, a hacker can potentially use an IP address from ON, while in Timbuktu.

Therefore, it’s always a good move to give your network logs a thorough look over for suspicious IP addresses. Although, to catch sneaky hackers like in the above example, you will need the help of a more comprehensive security solution, like having Tektonic monitor your network for suspicious activity, along with an enterprise-level firewall solution.

After determining that an IP address is a risk, we can then blacklist it so it can no longer access your network. In fact, with a network security tool like a UTM solution, you can even block IP addresses from entire countries that are known to be hotbeds for hackers. For additional help with locking down your network so that only approved IP addresses can access it, give us a call at (416) 256-9928.

Date: August 5th, 2015, Author: Jorge Rojas

Toronto IT Support  /  Tektonic Blog  /  How To  /  Tip of the Week: Protect Your Network By Blacklisting Malicious IP Addresses