When I connect to the internet through the office vpn my ip address changes. (I assume to the IP address of the office server). Does that totally hide my IP address or can it be traced back (even if it takes some diligent effort) back to my IP address?
Thanks for your question pwarren.
The short answer is Yes, Your IP can virtually always be traced back to your computer. In most cases, using a VPN to mask your IP is not easily detectable by the websites you visit but if you do something illegal that warrants enough effort, the true IP and street address can be discovered.
You should also be aware that everything you do while connected to your employers IP is probably logged so it can be known simply by reading a log file. Also the sites you visit could reflect on the companies integrity so be very careful with what you do while connected to their VPN.
Also note that a VPN will NOT hide your true IP address if you are sending email from your computer using an email client such as Outlook, Outlook Express or Thunderbird.
I'm going to check on this. In general, I think your actual IP Address is hidden. The reason is that VPN technology encapsulates your traffic in an outer layer of IP traffic that is used to transmit your traffic into the other end of that VPN. This is part of why it's called a tunnel.
At the same time, VPN appliances keep track of these connections. So someone *can* eventually figure it out. In real time? I'm not certain, but I don't think so. UNLESS they have access to the VPN admin.
As a thumbrule, once someone has physical access, all bets are off.