Tracking Your ID With An IP Address - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Tracking Your ID With An IP Address

Updated: Oct 31, 2012 09:36 PM CDT

TV6 first told you about an investigation into Davenport Alderman Mike Matson. According to a search warrant Matson is being investigated for allegedly sending a fake email using another alderman's name. A big part of the police investigation is tracking down the computer that sent the email. The process shows how everything all of us send over the internet can be traced.

When we use the internet on our computers, laptops, I-Pads, or smart phones, the internet provider gives us an IP address.  The IP address traces what we do on the internet and no matter what, the IP address can always be traced back to the computer.

A click of a mouse and a few taps on the keyboard are all it takes for us to get us online. In order for that information to be sent and then sent back to us we need an IP address.

"If you send an email think of it like your computer putting your home address on everything you send out, so that people know where to send information back to," says Aaron Randolph, a Network Engineer with Twin State Technical Services.

One device can have several IP addresses, because whenever we change locations or internet networks the IP address also changes.

"At a work place if you have a desktop computer or let's say you're using a laptop in several locations," adds Randolph, "It's probably going to get the same address reassigned to it."

Every internet transaction you make on your computer can be traced back to you.

"Everything on the internet has to have a unique ID, so that traffic can be routed to the right person who's asking for information," says Beth Tinsman, Founder of Twin State Technical Services.

When it comes to IP addresses -- you can't hide it or try to make it go away.

"When you're sending something there's a time stamp and some other information that's specific to that message," adds Tinsman, "It can be traced back."

Even though everything we do on the internet is traceable, it's not public information. A subpoena is needed to trace an IP address. However, computer experts say it's a reminder to be careful about what we do online.

"There's an electronic finger print that's left when you do something," says Tinsman.

Now, Mike Matson has not been charged with the crime. The case in under review by the Clinton County Attorney. Everyone involved with the investigation, including Matson, will not comment.