An IP address, short for Internet Protocol address, is a unique address that identifies a device on the Internet or a local network. It is assigned to a device by its Internet Service Provider (ISP) and allows information to be sent between devices on a network. It is a string of numbers separated by dots that contains local information and allows devices to communicate.
A dirty IP address is one that has lost credibility by being involved in unauthorised or malicious activity on the Internet. They are dictated by ISPs and websites and are always blacklisted. Having a dirty IP address is like having a bad record, which could warrant unnecessary extra checks when you surf the web. Email providers may classify your messages as spam, CAPTCHAs will pop up frequently, and some websites may block you altogether. You can report your IP address as dirty if you notice any of these things, especially frequent CAPTCHA requests.
Some factors can give you or implicate your IP address to be regarded as dirty. Factors such as:
- surfing the internet with a free VPN service, notably the one that recycles IP addresses
- sending spam emails in mass
- visiting illicit websites
- involving in shady online activities
- surfing with a dirty dynamic IP address.
Like a black sheep, a dirty IP address will rob you of many online opportunities and privileges. Not only will websites block you, email providers mark your messages as spam, and you will receive multiple CAPTCHA requests, but you will also be a prime target for cybercriminals.
Cybercriminals can bypass a dirty IP address, especially one that they or other criminals have used to infect the device with malware. They could potentially disrupt the device's internet traffic and easily harvest sensitive data from the user. They can also bypass dirty IP addresses provided by a VPN server, especially free ones, due to their weak encryption keys.
You can avoid getting a dirty IP address by restricting your browsing with a free VPN, regulating the sites you visit, avoiding shady online activities and avoiding the spread of spam. You can contact your ISP to change your IP if you get a dynamic dirty IP address, as it has the potential to further compromise your digital security on devices you use to access sensitive information.