Your ISP assigns one to you when you log onto the Internet. Some ISPs give you an IP address that stays the same for a period of time. This is a static IP address. Other ISPs give you a different IP address every time you log onto the Internet -- this is a dynamic IP address. Their purpose? Like a telephone number, IP addresses allow other systems to contact you. In other words, this is how data is routed through the Internet. This is how you get your e-mail. This is also how hackers can get into your computer.
It is important to note that it is not possible for a hacker to get your IP address through the game client. The most likely way for someone to gain this information is via contacts you make outside the game.
Security holes are not created by the game client, but you may meet a computer criminal within the community. Hackers can only get information you offer to them. However, most infiltrators can learn things about you - like your IP address - through other forums including, but not limited to:
• Bulletin Boards (posts may include your IP address)
• Instant messaging/chat programs
• IRC chats
• Direct link Internet games (FPS, RTS)
• File sharing programs
• Phishing e-mails
While finding out your IP address is a common way to infiltrate your system, it is not the only way. There are lots of hacking programs and tools available to assist hackers with getting into your system. Leaving your computer on and unattended for long periods of time -- especially if you have an always-on Internet connection -- could give hackers access. Viruses are also used to this end. Beware of executable files from sources you do not trust. Hackers frequently use executable files to open a port to your computer. Viruses will be discussed later in this document.