Table of Contents
- What is IP Geolocation?
- Top IP Geolocation APIs
- How Do IP Geolocation Service Providers Collect Data?
- How Accurate is IP Geolocation?
- What is IP Geolocation Used For?
- Can a fake IP Address be Traced?
The progression of geolocation technology has made it possible for us to locate things via the internet. Whether it is locating your lost pet with its GPS embedded collar or finding your favorite restaurant, geolocation has graduated to become an imperative technology for everyday living. Besides, the technology has evolved and is now used on a bigger scale by enterprises to identify and target consumers based on location. However, before we delve deep into the core aspects of this technology, let’s break it down.
What is IP Geolocation?
Geolocation is the identification or designation of the geographic location of an item, such as a mobile phone, radar source, or internet-connected computer. In that sense, IP Geolocation can be defined as the technique used to map a particular IP address to a geographic location from where the device is connecting to the internet. Through this technology, individuals or organizations can identify or estimate the real-world location of a device that you are using to connect to the internet. This technique provides your device’s location details such as the country, state city, latitude/longitude, zip code, and even the street if fine-tuned further.
Today, anyone can obtain geolocation services through subscription, and from there, they can access information about the location of the computer that you are using via its IP address. Although it doesn’t uncover your true identity or address, the IP address can reveal what City or even the ZIP code of the area you are in.
Top IP Geolocation APIs
Many companies and developers use APIs to geolocate their users and customer base.
Some of the best IP Geolocation APIs include:
- Telize – Offers JSON IP and GeoIP services. Supports both cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) and JSONP.
- Apilitiy.io – This API returns geolocation of any IP address with relevant information like continent, country, region, city, and more.
- geoPlugin – IP Geolocation service available in multiple programming languages.
- IPWHOIS.io – Filter out bot traffic, customize content (based on the user’s location), and more.
- Ipregistry – Fast and reliable IP geolocation and threat data API.
See the full list here.
How Do IP Geolocation Service Providers Collect Data?
Geolocation services boast access to vast databases that provide them with the necessary information they need to locate someone using IP addresses. However, their sources of data include:
Regional Internet Registries (RIR)
These are large organizations that are mandated with the role of managing and controlling internet access in various regions. RIR is responsible for the assigning and distribution of IP addresses, as well as registration of domains. Due to the rapid growth of the internet and the fact that every computer needs an IP to connect to the internet, the demand for IP addresses has risen, forcing the RIR to have subsidiary registries in various regions. Since the Regional Internet Registries are the custodians of the IP addresses, they are the primary source of data for geolocation service providers.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may also be a source of data for databases that are used by IP geolocation service providers. Because ISPs have perfect knowledge of their IP addresses, they sometimes share information with other online companies. The companies might, in turn, use statistical formulas and other advanced analytical tools to analyze data collected by IPS when we go about our regular online activities. Using such data, service providers can fine-tune their search and get more precise locations.
Data Submitted by User’s tied to IP addresses
In some cases, companies may take anonymous data that is linked to particular IP addresses and use the information to populate their databases. These include things like postal codes, a city, or any other information relating to your location that you provide when buying something online. They may also scour other data sources where your IP address had manifested before. For instance, when you log in to online weather sites and type your ZIP code or City, the data is tied to your IP since the request was made in real-time.
This is a more advanced and sophisticated technique where companies use traceroutes, pings, and other methods to visit websites, read their information, and collect data that can help in the identification of IP addresses geographic locations. The complexity of this technique makes it time-consuming. It is hard to map routing infrastructure around the internet, considering that there are millions if not billions of addresses that are allocated, moved, or de-allocated every single day.
How Accurate is IP Geolocation?
IP Geolocation has become an essential technology when it comes to mapping IP addresses with geographic locations (continent, country, state/province, and City, as well as additional information such as postal/ZIP code, time zone and area code, others). However, its accuracy is contingent upon the database being used by the service provider. Most vendors claim they provide 98 to 99% accuracy for the IP-to-country database. However, the IP2country database accuracy is considered to be about 95%. The accuracy of IP-to-City is estimated to be somewhere between 50% and 70%, while that of IP-to-Region is around 50% since there is no official source of IP2Region data.
What is IP Geolocation Used For?
The benefits of IP geolocation are far-reaching and are used by organizations from all sectors, including manufacturing, insurance, banking transportation, governments, and utilities, among others. By identifying their consumer’s location, businesses craft more targeted and personalize adverts, as well as provide more tailored products and services. In partnership with cross-platform mobile applications, IP geolocation offers the basis for enhanced and personalized experiences. It also allows organizations to leverage location data, social media, and other platforms to provide context-enriched services
In the banking sector, determining the user location is part and parcel of the authentication process that helps prevent money laundering, “phishing” attacks, and other security concerns. It also plays a pivotal role in fraud detection for online merchants, credit card providers, and online payment platforms.
Law enforcement agencies use IP geolocation services to track financial transactions done by corrupt government officials, drug dealers, and money launders. Government agencies also use the service to monitor online deals with terrorists associated groups or trading with banned nations.
Can a fake IP Address be Traced?
Since there are plenty of ways in which users can use fake IP addresses, there is a bugging question of whether they can still be traced. The answer is yes. Even if you fake your IP address using additional services, they will be mapped to the location that is provided by the service you are using. What happens is that the tool you are using makes others think that you are accessing the internet using another IP, in another Country. However, with more search, the address can be flagged as fake.