I’m not going to get all technical on you. I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible. It’s not really a huge deal but it’s good info to know.
As you cruise around the internet, you are giving some basic information to the sites that you visit. Generally, it is stuff that will not identify you personally in any way, like what kind of web browser you use, what kind of operating system your computer runs. However, there is one thing that you can be “traced” by – your IP address.
When you connect to the internet, you login with your username and password (you may not do this manually anymore, but it still happens) and then your internet service provider (ISP) gives you an IP number from their pool of numbers.
So realistically the closest anyone can get to you personally is to know what ISP you are using, and which state/country that ISP is in. Each time you send an email, your IP address goes out with that email, which makes you traceable back to your ISP. When you post on a forum, the forum logs your IP address.
For most this is a reasonable level of security. If you did something wrong, the police could ask your ISP for your details, I’m no legal expert but they’d need some kind of court order as far as I know. ISPs have to keep logs of who is using what IP address when, so you can be identified later on. Otherwise, that information is supposed to remain strictly confidential. People who work for the company could probably out who you are, but that would be about it.
For a scambaiter like me, it’s not really enough given that the people I’m emailing are criminals, and I don’t know anyone personally at my ISP – so who knows how safe my real info is? But thankfully free email providers like gmail and fastmail *hide* your IP address for you. Which is yet another reason I recommend gmail – if it’s secure enough for me, it’s secure enough for anyone. ;)
Do you want to see your IP address? Click here. It may also give you a location, and the location might be close or it might be way off. ;)
I guess the important thing to remember is, people can be traced if they do enough wrong to get the police interested and a court order issued. It’s good to keep that in mind.