Nagaland

RIR & Internet Service Providers: Law in motion (27) by Rupin Sharma

RIR and Internet Service Providers (ISPs): Law in motion (27) by Rupin Sharma

Kohima, May 06 (NEx): An article in Law in motion (27): Cyber Crimes- 10 written by Rupin Sharma, IPS.

Topics covered are:

1. How are the IP addresses managed?

2. How are IPv6 addresses allocated?

3. How can RIR and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) help in cyber-crimes?

4. How can RIRs help investigations?

5. How does one find out his own public IP address?

6. Can one Change or Hide Your IP Address?

7. What is a Virtual Private Network or VPN?

8. How can one distinguish Virtual IP address from Real?

9. How can a Real IP address be hidden?

Law In Motion – 27: Cyber Crimes – 10

Since there are a large number of IP Addresses – both public and private, there has to be some system to manage or administer this. Let me briefly address this aspect in various dimensions.

1. How are the IP addresses managed?

IP addresses are managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which has overall responsibility for the Internet Protocol (IP) address pool. The IANA distributes the large blocks of IP addresses to regional bodies called Regional Internet Registries (RIRs).

The Regional Registries manage, distribute, and publicly register IP addresses and related Internet number resources within their respective regions.

There are five (5) RIRs:

i. AfriNIC – African region

ii. APNIC – Asia Pacific region

iii. ARIN – North America and several Caribbean and North Atlantic islands

iv. LACNIC – Latin America and the Caribbean

v. RIPE NCC – Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Central Asia

2. How are IPv6 addresses allocated?

Both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are allocated to those who show that they need addresses for their networks. The RIRs and IANA charge fees for allocation of IP addresses, usually a once off sign-up fee + annual membership fee is payable.

Users are assigned IP addresses by Internet service providers (ISPs). ISPs obtain allocations of IP addresses from a local Internet registry (LIR) or National Internet Registry (NIR), or from their appropriate Regional Internet Registry (RIR).

When applying for a new IP Address, the applicant has to furnish detailed information. Among other things, this information includes details of the organisation/person to whom IP addresses are allocated and their contact details, physical addresses, email addresses, phone numbers etc.

3. How can RIR and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) help in cyber-
crimes?

As I have indicated above, IANA allocated blocks of IP addresses to RIRs and RIRs in-turn allocate IP address blocks to Internet Service Providers who finally allocate either static or dynamic IP addresses to the users/consumers.

Therefore, when investigating crimes, if there is any suspicion whether a particular IP address is correct and has not been ‘virtually generated or spoofed’, the ISPs, the RIRs and the IANA can act as reference tools and fall-back. They can confirm the correct allocation to the police and law enforcement agencies.

4. How can RIRs help investigations?

The IANA and RIRs (essentially the RIRs) maintain details of the corporates or Internet Service Providers and also the contact details of the ISPs who can be approached by the law enforcement agencies, if required. However, the RIRs can only provide details about allocated blocks and not specific user details of any particular session. For the latter, individual ISPs have to be approached, separately.

Besides these, the individual ISPs and companies also maintain records of the law enforcement nodal officers who can help them in investigations of crimes or cyber-crimes.

5. How does one find out his own public IP address?

Each machine or device which is connected to the global internet is randomly allocated an IP address. This is called the global or Public IP address. If the user does not have a static IP address, any user can find out the public IP address allocated to him/her is a particular session if the address is allocated dynamically.

To know your own dynamic IP address, you can adopt any of the following methods:

(a) Method 1

Open your device;

 Connect to the internet;

 Open any web browser – Google Chrome or MicrosoftEdge or Mozilla;

 In the browser type “My IP” or “What is my IP”

 Hit “Enter”

 Your Public IP address is shown at the top of the google search results

(b)Method 2

There are many other free websites which can help you to know your own public IP addresses:

 Google.com

 icanhazip.com

 IP Chicken

 What Is My IP Address

 IP-Lookup.net

 WhatIsMyIP.com

 IP Location Finder

I have dealt with private IP addresses earlier.

6. Can one Change or Hide Your IP Address?

Yes, this can be done. This is legally permissible and doable.

By default, your public IP address is visible by nearly anyone. Each website you visit can see it, your ISP knows what it is, and people snooping on your network – whether benign or malicious – can figure it out. This openness about a public IP address makes the man and the machine vulnerable.

Individuals or corporates may want to hide their public IP addresses from the prying eyes of potential hackers or attackers. Besides doing this for preventing attacks, it can also be done to ‘hide’ one’s identity for reasons of digital/virtual security or sometimes even for physical security of users. It is also not uncommon for civil liberties activists or freedom of expression activists or political dissidents in some countries to ‘hide’ their public IP addresses.

Sometimes, to ensure secrecy of communication and to evade surveillance too, IP addresses may be hidden. On other occasions, where restrictions are put by governments or even by parents on accessing ‘prohibited or restricted websites’, IP addresses may have to be masked or hidden. Most of these could be nothing more than benign activities or enable accessing benign information or persons.

However, the very same tools which are used for benign reasons can also be used by criminals to commit crimes – ordinary crimes as well as cyber-crimes.

Therefore, in an investigation involving an ITC interface, one of the first things an investigator has to establish is whether the communication is originating from a real/genuine IP address or from a masked/hidden/changed IP address.
Once this is established, the investigation can proceed further smoothly.

7. What is a Virtual Private Network or VPN?

Getting a Virtual IP address or hiding your real IP is like borrowing a different IP address to go anywhere online and stay hidden. The reasons to mask your IP address may include: Hiding your geographical location, preventing Web tracking, avoiding a digital footprint, or bypassing any content filters, bans, or blacklisting.

A VPN is a service that you sign up for online for a small monthly charge and once you have a VPN account, your VPN service should be “on” when you are online;

A VPN, in action, makes the internet connection more secure, helps you stay anonymous and helps you get around blocks and access censored sites;

The key to a VPN is that it lends you a temporary IP address and hides your true IP address from every website or email you connect with;

Thus, a VPN account when used can provide:

More privacy.

Your connections cannot be linked to your computer and you.

The user can visit any website and your ISP doesn’t know directly what he has been doing.

More security.

VPN connections are super secure. The network is hack proof and all of your Internet activity is encrypted (coded) and unreadable in transit.

More website access.

A VPN helps overcome blocks or censorship. They can’t prevent from getting to websites based an IP address.

More anonymity.

Your true IP address is hidden making the user unidentifiable online because you’re constantly using a different IP address, never your own. It may typically look as if you are in a different part of the world from where you really are. When you use a VPN, everything else about your Internet experience stays virtually the same. Some of the better known VPN providers are :

ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Surfshark, NordVPN

8. How can one distinguish Virtual IP address from Real?

The IP addresses of VPN servers are not difficult to recognize — there are even databases specializing in VPN detection, that try to determine whether an IP belongs to a particular provider. When you access a website with a VPN on, it may be able to identify that you are using a VPN using your IP address.

9. How can a Real IP address be hidden?

There are four possible ways to hide your IP address:

OPTION 1 – Use a VPN Service

Sign up with these services with a VPN Service Provider. When you go online, the world sees a different IP address – one which is temporarily on loan from the VPN Service provider you are using. There are hundreds of VPN companies to choose from – many of them shady or poor quality.

OPTION 2 – Use the Tor Browser – The Slowest Choice People from all over the world use Tor to search and buy products and communicate with others with restricted Internet access, such as what exists in some foreign countries.

The Tor Browser (like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) is a free software program that you download onto your computer. The Tor Browser conceals your IP address every time you go online anonymously. The Tor browser is layered with heavy-duty encryption, which means your data is layered with security and privacy protection.

OPTION 3 – Use a Proxy Server – The Riskiest Method

A proxy server (sometimes called an “open proxy” or just “proxies”) can be used to re-route your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer or Edge) around a company or school content filters.

If free proxies are used to mask your IP address, they may slow down your internet connection and may not be legal in some countries. A safer solution is to use proxies managed by a company such as Smartproxy.

OPTION 4 – Use Public WiFi – The Long Distance Way

An IP address doesn’t travel with you. Therefore, if you visit a restaurant, or a mall, or airport etc., and use their Wi-Fi, your usual IP address gets hidden for the duration you use their network’s IP address.