Trace IP Address - Find a Spammer!

Jose Michael

At one time, in the early days of the Internet, the few spammers who dared to show their unwelcome heads in our mailboxes were anonymous. No-one knew who they were, of if anyone did, it was on hardware too complex to get the information from for one item of unsolicited email - plus at that time, there was so little of it, unsolicited emails were a novelty.

These days spam is a constant headache for most of us, and especially those who have limited storage on their email accounts, so finding and squashing the spammers is an important job. Fortunately technology has also moved on and it's now possible to trace IP address back to the sender!

This works in quite a simple way. Each computer has its own number - like a telephone number, and within that number is the identifying number of the network company that the computer user is a member of, and there's a database containing all of the networks and their assigned numbers. Like passing items through a sorting machine where everything is fed in at the top, and then filtered through one stage, and then another, eventually it's possible to trace the IP address of the offending spammer!

Of course it isn't always as easy as that. If it were, then spammers would take the road and start using public facilities where they would be just one of the many people online at any one time. Although it would be possible with some human interaction to discover who was on which computer at the time the spam was sent - and assuming there was no time delay in sending - the spammer would be caught. Not many normal spam offenders are worth that much attention, but severe cases such as those distributing adult or offensive material have learned not to use their static computers when sending out this kind of material and instead use far trickier method such as sending their emails from different locations to where they are situated, even overseas, using the telephone system. Other professional spammers get around the trace IP address problem by simply erecting a fierce firewall.

As techniques to trace IP address continue to expand, it's to be hoped that the spammers become less in number because it becomes so much easier to identify them.

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