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Is it possible for anyone to detect your IP address or particular location in a given area when you are accessing the Internet using their WiFi?

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migrated from serverfault.com Oct 13 '09 at 15:29

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4 Answers 4

Yes.

The owner of that WIFI hotspot will know your IP address because you'll be on their network.

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Your IP address definitely. Your location? Depends on their infrastructure. The system we employed in the warehouse at my last job allowed any connected device to be located within 100cm.

I'm interested in why you are asking though, as it sounds to me like you're leeching other people's bandwidth and don't want to get caught.

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conversely, maybe the OP is trying to set up a set of public hotspots and want to know if the users can be tracked. =) –  sybreon Oct 13 '09 at 1:09
    
Possibly. That's why I answered instead of flagging it. –  John Gardeniers Oct 13 '09 at 2:49
    
Ah, at first I read "100 meter" rather than "1 meter"... Multiple access points I assume? –  Arjan Oct 13 '09 at 15:45

"Your" IP address will actually be provided by that other network.

Personal details (hence possibly including your location, or even your name): yes, if you don't use encryption to connect to personalised web sites or email servers.

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In short: To a certain degree of precision: Yes, very likely.

You'll get your IP to access the provider from this provider's pool. If this provider is only located in a certain area or has different subnets for regions although being nationwide available you'd be pinpointed to that region/area.

But then, that might be a pretty large area... like a country (in Europe not uncommon). So maybe "precision" is the wrong word... :-)


And of course, as soon as traffic flows to your machine, the traffic can be traced, and by looking up the names and location of the hops along the way, one can get a good impression. Like when I ping a certain machine, it might output something like this:

xmwc-mnch-de01-chan-19.nw.mediaways.net (195.71.164.58)  19.654 ms  19.949 ms  19.924 ms
te-3-4.ar2.fra4.gblx.net (80.81.192.39)  28.156 ms  28.523 ms  28.432 ms
162.97.117.110 (162.97.117.110)  43.309 ms  176.630 ms  239.945 ms
l121-hea-rc4.uk.attenda.net (217.64.228.36)  43.267 ms  43.078 ms  43.526 ms

So the traffic is going from a provider named mediaways.net in Germany, location Munich (mnch) via Frankfurt (fra) via some unknown machine to the United Kingdom and ends up at the provider attenda.net, which is incidentially the UK-provider for Microsoft.co.uk.

All of this is not very precise, and needs a lot more fine tuning, but its possible to do and not very difficult. Just time consuming.

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