What Is an IP Address?
The internet protocol address (IP address) is a numerical identifier that links a computer or computer network to the internet. The IP address allows computers to send and receive data when they are linked to the internet. An IP address is made up of a series of integers separated by periods. IP addresses are made up of four integers; an example address is 126.96.36.199. The numbers in the set can range from 0 to 255. As a result, the full IP addressing range is 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.
IP addresses do not appear to be generated at random. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is part of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is in charge of creating and assigning numerical addresses (ICANN).
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit organization based in the United States that was created in 1998 to help maintain the internet safe and accessible to everyone. When someone registers a domain name on the internet, they do so through a domain name registrar, who pays ICANN a small fee.
IP addresses are the identifiers that allow data to be exchanged between devices on a network: they contain location information and allow communication between devices. The internet needs a way to identify between different computers, routers, and webpages. IP addresses are an important part of how the internet works and provide a way to do so.
How an IP Address Works
Computers use IP addresses to send and receive data over the internet. The majority of IP addresses are numerical, however as internet usage grows, certain addresses have letters appended to them.
IP addresses are divided into four categories: public, private, static, and dynamic. While public and private imply network location (private being used within a network and public being utilized outside of a network), static and dynamic represent network permanency.
A static IP address is one that was created manually rather than being assigned. A static IP address is likewise permanent, but a dynamic IP address is assigned by a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server and can change. The most prevalent type of internet protocol address is the dynamic IP address. Dynamic IP addresses are only valid for a certain period before they expire. Either the computer will request a new lease or a new IP address will be assigned to it.
Types of IP addresses
There are different categories of IP addresses:
Consumer IP addresses
Private IP addresses and public IP addresses will be assigned to each person or corporation having an internet service subscription. A private IP address is used within a network, whereas a public IP address is used outside of one.
Private IP addresses
Any device that connects to your internet network is given a private IP address. Computers, smartphones, and tablets, as well as any Bluetooth-enabled speakers, printers, and smart TVs, are all included. As the internet of things increases, the number of private IP addresses you have at home is going to increase. Each of these items must be able to be detected separately by your router, and several of them must be able to recognize one another. As a result, your router assigns each device a private IP address, which serves as a network identity.
Public IP addresses
A public IP address is a principal address for your entire network. While each connected device has its own IP address, they are all part of the primary IP address for your network. As previously stated, your ISP gives your router your public IP address. ISPs usually have a large pool of IP addresses to choose from when assigning addresses to their customers. Your public IP address is the address that will be used to identify your network by all devices outside of your internet network.
Dynamic IP addresses
Dynamic IP addresses change on a regular basis. ISPs buy a large pool of IP addresses and automatically assign them to their customers. They re-assign them on a regular basis, and the older IP addresses are returned to the pool for use by other clients. The goal of this method is for the ISP to save money. They don’t have to go through any special procedures to re-establish a customer’s IP address if they move residence, for example, because IP addresses are routinely transferred. There are also security benefits since criminals will find it more difficult to obtain access to your network interface if your IP address changes.
Static IP addresses
Static IP addresses, unlike dynamic IP addresses, do not change. Once an IP address is assigned by the network, it does not change. A static IP address is not required for most individuals and businesses, but it is required for businesses that plan to host their servers. This is because a static IP address ensures that the websites and email addresses associated with it have a stable IP address, which is essential if you want other devices to be able to find them on the internet consistently.
IP address security threats
Cybercriminals might access your IP address through a variety of methods. Social engineering and internet-stalking are two of the most popular.
Social engineering can be used by attackers to trick you into giving your IP address. They may, for example, track you down using Skype or another instant messaging program that communicates via IP addresses. It’s vital to remember that strangers can see your IP address if you use these applications to talk with them. Attackers can utilize the Skype Resolver tool to find your IP address by looking up your username.
Criminals can use your online behavior to trace down your IP address. From playing video games to leaving comments on websites and forums, your IP address might be revealed through a variety of online actions.
Once they have your IP address, attackers can type it into an IP address tracking website like whatismyipaddress.com to get a sense of where you are. If they wish to confirm that the IP address is related to you specifically, they can cross-reference other open-source data. They can then utilize LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media sites to see where they live and compare it to the area specified. If a Facebook stalker conducts a phishing attack to install spying malware on people with your name, the stalker’s IP address will very certainly validate your identity.
Downloading illegal content using your IP address
Hackers have been known to download illicit content and anything else they don’t want to be traced back to them using hacked IP addresses. Criminals could, for example, use your IP address to download pirated movies, music, and video, which would violate your ISP’s terms of service, as well as content related to terrorism or child pornography.
Tracking down your location
Hackers can utilize geo location technology to identify your region, city, and state if they know your IP address. They only need to conduct a bit more research on social media to find your house and possibly break into it while you are gone.
Directly attacking your network
Criminals can attack your network directly and launch a range of attacks. A DDoS assault is one of the most common (distributed denial-of-service). This sort of cyberattack occurs when hackers employ previously infected workstations to overwhelm the targeted system or server with a large number of requests. This generates too much traffic for the server to handle, causing service interruptions. It essentially turns off your internet. While this attack is most commonly directed at corporations and video gaming services, it can also be directed at individuals, though this is rare. Because their screen is visible when broadcasting, online gamers are particularly vulnerable (on which an IP address can be discovered).
How to protect and hide your IP address
Hide your IP address to safeguard your online identity and personal information. The following are the two most common methods for concealing your IP address:
- Making use of a proxy server
- Making use of a virtual private network (VPN)
- A proxy server is a server that acts as a middleman for your traffic
- Your IP address is not visible to the internet servers you visit; only the proxy server’s IP address is visible.
- When those servers provide you information, it is routed through the proxy server, which then sends it to you.
One disadvantage of proxy servers is that some of them can eavesdrop on you, therefore you must trust them. They can also introduce advertising into your browser, depending on which one you use.
A VPN is a better option:
- When you connect your computer, smartphone, or tablet to a VPN, the device seems to be connected to the VPN’s local network.
- All of your network traffic is routed through the VPN over a secure connection.
- You can securely access local network resources even if you are in another nation since your computer acts as if it is connected to a network.
- You can also utilize the internet as if you were physically present at the VPN’s server, which is useful if you’re using public Wi-Fi or want to access geo-restricted websites.