Tracking the IP address of an email will lead you to the owner of the email address. Most harassment and reputation damage is done through anonymous Gmail and Protonmail email addresses. Gmail doesn’t include the IP address of the sender unless the email is sent through a phone or desktop client. Protonmail is encrypted, so you won’t be able to track an email through Protonmail, except through advanced methods which we will explain in this article.
An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a set of rules that governs the format of data sent via a local network or the internet.
Tracking an IP address from an email can be done through several methods. It depends on the email service how you can obtain the IP address. We will dive into the most popular email providers below.
If the sender hides behind a VPN or proxy, the IP address will give you a false location. Run the IP address through an IP-lookup service to find out if it is a VPN or not.
If tracking an IP address from an email can’t be done by analyzing the email header, you can track an email through social engineering or through a subpoena. At the bottom of this article, you will find information about your investigative and legal options.
Tracking the IP address of an email
There are several ways to tracking the IP address of an email.
1. Find the IP address in Email Headers
If you are looking for an IP address from a Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook email, you may be able to find the IP address in the email headers.
Yahoo and Outlook often include the sender’s IP address in the metadata of the email header.
Gmail, in most cases, provides its own IP address and hides the sender’s IP address. However, if the sender sent the email through mobile or a desktop client there is a chance that you may be able to find the sender’s IP address.
This article explains how to track the IP address of an email of Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook.
If you want to track Protonmail, it may not be that simple. Protonmail offers a high level of security and offers privacy to their users, and they don’t disclose the IP address of the users. To find the IP address of a Protonmail sender, keep reading.
2. Capture the IP address through Social Engineering
If tracking the IP address of an email isn’t possible through the email header, you can look into social engineering. This is what our cyber investigators specialize in. Through social engineering, we capture IP addresses from emails (even Protonmail), burner phones, social media, and more. Over the years, we developed a powerful forensic software that tracks the IP address, device details, and much more. With our software, we can even defeat VPNs, and it is all legal and admissible in court.
When you have a suspect, we can capture their IP address as well to see if it is a match with the anonymous user. If it is, you have the evidence you need to prove it is the same person.
If you don’t have a suspect, and we tracked the IP address of an email, we will provide a subpoena for your lawyer or local police to submit to the Internet Service Provider to obtain the customer information to identify the anonymous user.
If you decide to take the anonymous user to court, our report, affidavit, and sworn testimony will help you in seeking injunctive relief.
3. Subpoena to get IP addresses
If the email address no longer exists, social engineering is not an option and you will need to subpoena the Email Provider to obtain the IP addresses. You can file a civil lawsuit against “John or Jane doe”, to issue subpoenas. But the antagonist will know you are coming for them. Because the Email Provider will notify the registered user to give them the chance to challenge or resist the subpoena. In American law, an unknown defendant acting as John or Jane Doe is permitted to respond anonymously and try to have the subpoena quashed. Also, Email Providers like Google can decline the request because of the jurisdiction, because they are a Californian corporation. But if our investigators capture an IP address in Texas, for example, you immediately have the right jurisdiction and eliminate the discovery delays and resistance, and expense in pursuing through Google first.
Note: It is difficult to subpoena Protonmail. Swiss law requires the subpoena to be valid and requested from a Swiss court.
We have decades of experience preparing subpoenas for our client’s lawyers or local police. We know exactly what to ask for and how to ask for this information. And not only that, by outsourcing the subpoena preparation to us for a flat fee of $1,000, you drastically reduce your lawyer fees.