How important is your IP address?

If you've played xbox live or PSN before, and especially the call of duty series, you'll get the occasional pissed off player who gets mad at you and threatens to "hack" you and find your IP address.

I'm sure that 99.99% of these claims are just complete BS and 99% of COD players don't know how to hack, but is there a legitimate chance that you can get hacked over xbox live or PSN by someone who actually knows how to hack? How do they do this and what are measures you can take to prevent this from happening to you?

Most of the time, people will threaten to find my IP address and find out where I live, but again I find this to be complete BS. First off, how important is your IP address? Does it really show where you live, or is this just a misunderstanding?
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  1. Haha, you probably encountered some 13 year old punk that thinks finding the school wifi password is 'hacking'. I've know a thing or two about pen testing (hacking into a system for legit reasons) and you can rest assured that no one can really hack you with JUST an ip address.

    An ip address does show your relative location though, but the error of margin is AT LEAST 15 miles, so they wouldn't be able to find you, maybe just the city you leave in.
  2. Best answer
    Okay this is both a BS and a truism at the sametime and let me explain a bit.

    Think of IPs like telephone numbers, there is only *1* number like that anywhere, (especially as people have cell phones thus can be anywhere) so saying I will find out your telephone number and I can track you down personally to where you are who you are etc. is not normally true (BS). Just like you ABSOLUTELY have to have a telephone number assigned to the phone before you can call another telephone's number, the same with IPs. You need one to make the connection to the target end, to 'call' tomshardware and 'order' the website.

    Now here is where the tricky part you see hollywood really make more BS about, when you connect your network (not your computer!) from your home router to a ISP, you are 1 of hundred of thousands of its customers, so your given a 'random' IP from a pool for your state, county, area of town, that gets used by your ISP for that area. So if someone worked INSIDE the ISP, they could 'track' you by that IP to that 'area' and monitor for your connection, or have it recorded already to track back for resolving issues (HEY my internet is slow!). That is the Big Brother Government image coming to hunt you down you see, but it is still a possibility (Court Orders, committing a actual crime, etc.).

    Now just as your phone may be AT&T, the person your calling is MCI, how does AT&T connect to MCI? Much less two different phone of different customers in different locations 100% of the time reliably. Well that is the same question about the Internet (replace phone with computer). Basically a spiders web of connections and interconnections were made by Communications companies, they then were forced to play nice by legal / government enforcement, so they share these resources and interconnect them. The 'path' between San Franscisco to Miami isn't straight SE though, it actually could go South then East then North then hop back West before run across to the NE then south again for THAT SINGLE connection. The next time the person tries it could take a different route, based on traffic, outages, etc. So 'tracking' backwards isn't really going to happen as you can see, because you have to be able to access all the connecting points, different ISP providers, etc. to track the connection.
  3. Your IP address can determine your general location, but as mentioned above it would only be accurate to a couple of miles at most.

    As for any person you meet on Xbox Live's ability to hack into your home network, provided you don't tell them any information yourself or do anything they tell you, they cant. They aren't hosting the server your connecting too, so they cant track the IP addresses of each player. If their games console is hosting it, they wouldn't be able to look at that list anyway.

    If they did manage to get your IP address, the most they could do is send a ton of traffic to your IP address which hopefully would consume all your internet bandwidth, effectively cutting you off from the Internet. This is basically what happens when hacker groups like Anonymous decide they want to take down a website.
    However I doubt that will happen, an attack like that would require a large network of computers to all hammer your IP at once, something that a single hacker/script kiddy is unlikely to have available.

    As for them getting into the network, its not going to happen unless you let them in. Quite simply the weakest link in any network security is the human element, the chances of a person allowing a virus into a network is far higher than one managing to sneak/bust its way through your firewall.
    Look up Kevin Mitnick, one of the most successful hackers in the world and his main way of getting in was simply asking people to let him in.
    This also backs up the point Tom was making about Hollywood, when he was eventually caught, the judge had no idea of how hacking worked and denied him access to a phone in prison so that he couldn't start a nuclear war by whistling notes into the phone :lol:.
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