What is an IP Address?
What is the definition of an IP Address?
IP Address stands for Internet Protocol, and it is a unique address that identifies a computer or device on the internet or on a local network. It is a numerical label assigned to devices that are connected to a computer network and uses IP for communication. IP is also the set of rules governing the format of data sent thru the internet or local network.
So basically, IP addresses are the identifier that lets information to be sent between gadgets or devices on a network: they have location information and make these devices and gadgets accessible for communication. The internet has to have a way to differentiate between different computers or gadgets, routers and the websites. And these addresses give a way of doing so and form an essential part of how the internet works.
What is an IP?
An IP Address is a string of numbers that is separated by periods. IP addresses are expressed as a set f four numbers. To give you an example, here is one IP address: 184.108.40.206. Each number found in this set can range from 0 to 255. Thus, the full IP addressing range goes from 0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
The IP addresses are not random. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a division of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), mathematically produce and allocates them. Established in the United States in 1998, ICANN is a non-profit organization which aims to help maintain the security of the internet and making it usable by everyone. Whenever an individual or a company registers a domain on the net, they have to go through a domain name registrar. This registrar has to pay a certain amount to the ICANN in order to register the domain.
How do these IP addresses Work?
If you have encountered or experienced having difficulties connecting your gadget or computer or device, and you want to know why they are not doing so and/or you want to troubleshoot why your network is not connecting the way you would expect it, it would really be a big help to fully understand how these IP addresses work.
Just like any other languages, our IP works the same. They do so by communicating employing set guidelines in order to pass information. All gadgets, computers and devices find, send and exchange information with other connected gadgets, computers and devices employing this protocol. By having the same language, any gadgets, computers and devices wherever they may be located can communicate to one another.
The use of these IP addresses usually occur behind the scenes, and the process will typically work like this;
Your gadgets, computers and devices indirectly connect to the net by connecting at first to a network that is connected to the internet, it will then give your gadgets, computers and devices access to the net.
If you are at home or office, the network will most probably be your Internet Service Provider or ISP, but when you are your office, that will be your company’s network. The IP address is given to your gadgets, computers and devices by your ISP.
Next, your activities on the net goes through the ISP, and the ISP routes or sends it back to you, utilizing your IP address. And since the ISP are providing you access to the net, they then have to assign an IP address to all your gadgets, computers and devices. But, your IP address can also change. You can do this by turning your modem or router on or off. These can change the IP address. You can likewise call your ISP and let them change it for you.
But when you are travelling, and you have your gadget or devices with you, your home IP addresses remains at home. It does not travel or goes out with you. And the reason for this is, you will be using or this would allow you to use other networks located in airports, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, bars etc. This feature will allow you to use these networks and you will be using different IP address which is assigned to you by the ISP of the place that you are connected to i.e. airport, hotel.
Different Types of IP Addresses
IP Addresses have different types, here are the various categories of IP addresses and within each category, are different types:
Consumer IP Addresses
Each individual or business with an internet service plan have two types of IP addresses, one is their private IP Addresses and the other, the public IP address.
The terms public and private addresses speak about the network location – if you say, private IP address, it is used inside the network, and when talking about public address, it is employed outside a network.
Private IP address
A computer or device that connects or taps to your internet network has its own private IP address. Computers, gadgets, smartphones and tabs, as well as devices that are Bluetooth-enabled like but not limited to speakers, printers, Smart TVs are just some of things that have private IP address. And with the rapid increase in the number of Internet of Things , the number of private IP address that you possess right now is likewise increasing. Your own router at home has to find ways to recognize and identify these devices, gadgets individually, and a lot of these things need a way to recognize other devices as well.
Thus, your router has to generate private IP addresses that are not only unique identifiers for each device but will also be able differentiate them on the network.
Public IP Addresses
The Public address is the main address that is linked with your whole network. While each individual device that are connected has their own IP addresses, they are also incorporated within the primary IP address for your own network. As mentioned earlier, your public IP address is assigned to you by your ISP through your router. Usually, ISPs have this large pool of IP addresses which they can allocate or assign to their clients and customers. Your public IP address is also the address that devices outside your internet network will employ in order to recognize your own network.
Types of Public IP Addresses
There are two forms of Public IP addresses, the Dynamic IP address and the Static IP Address.
Dynamic IP Address
Dynamic IP Addresses automatically and on a regular basis, changes. ISPs purchase a large pool of IP addresses and allocate them automatically to their clients. Once in a while, they are re-assigned and assign the older IP addresses back into the pool which will then be used for other clients. This practice allows them to generate cost saving measures for the ISP. When they automate the regular and standard flow of the IP addresses, it would mean that they do not have to carry specific actions just to re-establish a client’s IP address, if for example they move somewhere else. This action also has security advantages, and since they change IP address, this would make potential hacking into your network interface very hard if not impossible.
Static IP Addresses
Compared to Dynamic IP Addresses, Static IP addresses do not change, they stay consistent. And once the network gives an IP address, that IP address would remain the same all throughout. For businesses that ought to have their own server, having a Static IP addresses is vital. But for most individuals and corporate businesses, this type of pubic IP address is not recommended. And the reason why this is crucial for those who want to host their own server – a static IP address guarantees that websites and email addresses that are associated to it will have a consistent IP address. And this is important if you need other computers or gadgets to find you consistently on the web.
And this brings you to next point- the two types of website IP addresses.
The Two Types of Website IP Addresses
For a lot of owners of websites who do not want to host their own server, and want to rely mostly on a web hosting package, which happens for a lot of websites, there are two types of website IP addresses, and these are the Shared and the Dedicated.
Shared IP Address
Websites that rely on shared hosting plans from web hosting providers will usually be one of the many websites hosted on by the same server. This is typical for individual websites or those SME websites, wherein the volume of traffic are quite manageable, and the sites themselves are limited like having less number of pages, etc. Websites that are hosted like this typically will have shared IP addresses.
Dedicated IP Addresses
Some web hosting plans often have choices to buy a dedicated IP address or even addresses. This will make it easier for them to get an SSL certificate and lets them run their own File Transfer Protocol or FTP Server. This makes it easier to share and transfer files with several people within the group and let anonymous FTP sharing options. A dedicated IP Address also lets you access your website by utilizing the IP address alone and not the domain name. This is useful especially if you want to build and test it before registering your domain name.
How to Look Up for IP Addresses
To check your router’s public IP Addresses, the simplest way is to search or type “What is my IP address?” on Google. And at the top of the page, Google will show you the answer.
The same information will be shown to you by other websites: they can see your public IP address since, by visiting the site, your router has made a request and thus shown the information. If you want to know the name of your ISP and your city, you can visit IP Location.
In general, you will only get an estimate of location employing this method – where the provider is, but not the actual location of the device. If you are doing this, do not forget to log out of your VPN too. Getting the actual physical location address for the public IP address typically needs a search warrant to be presented to the ISP.
Finding your private IP address usually differs depending on the platform that you are using:
- Use the command prompt.
- look for the “cmd” (do this without the quote marks) using Windows search.
- In the resulting pop-up box, key in “ipconfig” (again no quote marks) to find the information.
When using a Mac
- Go to System Preferences
- Select network – and you will see the information that you are looking for.
When On an iPhone
- Go to Settings – click
- Choose Wi-Fi and click the “I” in a circle () right next tt he network that you are on – the IP address will be shown under the DHCP tab.
If you want to check the IP addresses of other gadgets on your network, go into the router. How to access the router will generally depend on the kind of brand and software that it uses. Basically, you should be able to type the router’s gateway IP address into a web browser on the very same network to gain access. After which, you need to navigate to something like “”attached devices,” which should show a list if all the gadgets, devices that are currently or have been attached to the network – this includes their IP address.
IP Address Security Threats
Hackers and cybercriminals can employ different techniques just to obtain your IP address. Among the most common techniques includes social engineering and online stalking.
Hackers can bring into play social engineering just to mislead or trick you into giving your IP address. A typical example is by using various Instant Messaging Apps and/or Social media platforms like Skype, Messenger which uses IP addresses to communicate. If you talk with strangers using these apps, it is very crucial to remember that they can see your IP address. They will then use a Skype Resolver tool to find your IP address from your username.
Online Stalking is almost like stalking in the real world. Here the potential victim is being followed by criminals virtually, tracking down their IP address. These cybercriminals can do this by stalking your online activities. Regardless how frequent you are online, your IP address can be revealed. They can be seen just by joining other websites, commenting on forums, debating on socmed platforms and playing online games, to name a few.
After they have tracked your IP address, they can then go to an IP address tracking websites like whatismyipaddress.com, key in your IP address and then get an idea where you are located. These cybercriminals can then cross-reference other open-source data if they want to validate and confirm if the IP Address is specifically linked with you. They can then tap social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram to verify if you are indeed in the area given in these social media networks.
If for example, a stalker in Facebook uses a phishing attack on other people using your name to install spying malware, the IP address linked with your system would most likely confirm your identity to the stalker. If these criminals get a hand on your IP address, they can then use it, by launching attacks against other users or even against you. They can even impersonate you and trick other people. Thus, it is very important to be wary of the risks and how to prevent being attacked by these cybercriminals.
Among the risks may include the following:
Downloading illegal content using your IP address.
Tracking down your location
If these cybercriminals get their hands on your IP address, chances are these hackers can use geolocation tech in order to know your region, city and state – your address. They will only need somewhat a little more searching on your social media account to pinpoint your exact home address and possibly burgle it when no ones home, like say you went on a long vacation abroad.
Directly attacking your network
Hackers can directly target your network and then will launch a barrage of assaults. Usually these hackers will use DDoS Attack, which is one of the most common among these cybercriminals. DDoS stands for distributed denial-of-service, and when they use this cyberattack, it can disrupt the service of the server. This is because the hackers use previously infected machines in order to get high volume of requests. They do this to flood the system or server, which will result to too much traffic that is way beyond the capacity of the server. It will essentially shuts your internet down. Businesses are usually the target of such crime but it can also happen to individual accounts, so do not take this for granted. People who are into online games are usually at risk for this since their screen is visible while streaming. It is here that their IP address can be seen by the hacker.
Hacking Into Your Gadget
To connect, the internet has to use ports as well as your IP address. There are lots of ports for each IP address, and when the hacker knows your IP address, they can try the ports in order to force a connection. They will attempt to connect and take over your device. For example, these hackers will steal information, takeover your mobile phone and anything that is valuable to them. If they gain access to your device, they will then install malware on it.
Protecting and Hiding your IP Address
In order to protect you and your personal information, including your online information, you need to hide your IP Address. To do this, there are two ways on how to effectively hide your IP address:
1. First use a proxy server. A proxy server is a go-between server through which your traffic is being routed.
2. Use a virtual private network or VPN.
The internet servers that you visit will only see the IP address of the proxy server, and not your own IP address. And when these servers send back information to you, it will go to the proxy server, which routes it to you.
An issue of proxy server however is that some of the services can also spy on you, thus, you need to trust on these proxy servers if you want it to work on your favor. Depending on what proxy server you are using, they can also insert some adverts into your browser.
VPN can provide a better solution. Everytime you connect your computer, device, tabs or smartphone t a VPN, it will act behave if it is on the same local network as the VPN. All of your network traffic is then routed to a secure connection to the VPN.
But because your computer or any other devices that you are using, act as if it is on the network, you can securely and safely access local network resources even though you are in a different location. You can even use the internet like you are just at the VPN’s location. This has lots of advantages especially when you are using public WI-Fi or wnt to gain access to geo-blocked websites. One VPN that can protect you when you are on a public WI-Fi is the Kaspersky Secure Connection. It helps keep your communication private and ensure that you will be safe and not prone to phishing, malware, spyware, viruses and other cyber crimes.
When should VPN be Used
To hide your IP address, consider using VPN. It will also redirect your traffic by means of a separate server. And this makes it a lot easier for you online. Here are possible scenarios where using a VPN is a good idea.
When you are using a public Wi-Fi
If you are trying to connect to a Wi-Fi at the airport, hotel or coffee shops, it is advisable to use a VPN even if these public Wi-Fi networks are password-protected. Hackers and cybercriminals can still do their thing as they are also on the same Wi-Fi network, making it easy for them to look onto your personal data. The basic protection that these public Wi-Fi network usually have are not enough or does not have the robust protection from other users who are on the same network.
By using a VPN you will have an added protection to your data, ensuring you bypass the public Wi-Fi’s ISP and encrypting all your communication.
Every time you travel
If you love travelling to different places and have to be online, say on Facebook, using a VPN should be a great idea. If you are in a country where some social media are not allowed or are blocked, a VPN can definitely come in handy.
The VPN will usually allow you to use steaming apps that you have paid for and have access in your home country. However, they may not be readily available in some countries due to certain international rights issues. So, best to check it out first. Using VPN can allow you to use the service as if you are at home. People who are on the road may also find more affordable airfare using VPN, as prices may vary from one region to another.
Use VPN when working remotely
If you are one of those working nomads, it is strongly recommended to use VPN. And as the current global health crisis continue to affect businesses, working remotely has increased significantly. A lot of employers require the use of VPN to gain access to their company’s services when they are away, and this is for their own and their company’s safety. A VPN that links to your office’s server can provide you access to internal company networks and resources when you are out, and this is true for your home network while you are on vacation or somewhere else.
When you just need some extra privacy
Using a VPN is not a bad idea even if you are just at home especially when you are using it every day and frequently. Every time you surf the net, or gain access to a website, the server that you connect to logs your IP address and adds it to all the other data the site can learn about the user. This may include the following, your browsing habits, what you clicked on, how long you are online, how long you spend browsing on a certain page, etc. Hackers can take advantage of this, they can sell the information and the data to advertising companies who can tailor fit an advertisement directly to you. This is one of the reasons why ads on the net can sometimes feel somewhat personal, and it is, because of this. Your IP address can likewise be used to track your whereabouts even if your location service is turned off. Using a VPN can help prevent leaving any footprint in the digital world or in the web.
As mentioned earlier, your mobile devices have IP addresses too, thus when using them outside your home, say coffee shops, bus stops or Wi-Fi hotspots, it is best to use VPN. And when connecting to a network that you do not fully trust, always remember, use a VPN on your mobile.
Here are other ways to protect your privacy
First is to change your privacy settings when using instant messaging apps. Remember that these apps that are usually installed on your devices are just some of the major source of IP address hacking. These instant messaging apps and other calling applications are being used by hackers and cybercriminals. Using IM apps only lets direct connections from a contact and does not accept calls or messages from other people that you do not know. Changing your privacy settings will make it harder for people who are trying to invade your privacy to locate your IP address since people you do not know cannot connect with you.
Always create unique passwords
How many time have you been reminded to use hard to cracked passwords. Do not use passwords like the word “passwords” or anything that would be related to you personally. Remember that passwords are the only barrier that protects you from people trying to gain access to your device illegally. Do not use the default passwords as this is vulnerable to attacks. And just like your accounts, your device has to have a strong and unique password that is very hard to hack or decode.
Try mixing upper and lower case letters, numbers, characters and try to make it longer. This will provide protection and help safeguard your device from IP address hacking.
Always be on Guard against Phishing Emails and other Malicious Content
Never click on things that you are not totally familiar with. Malware and device tracking software are often installed using phishing emails. And when you connect with any site, this gives the site access to your IP address and device location, and this provides hackers the chance to gain access to your device and to your personal information and data. When opening emails, make sure that you know who sends the email. And when you see something is not right, do not click on those links nor should you open emails from unknown senders. Some of these links can lead you to malicious websites with questionable contents. Be vigilant when opening emails even if they appear to have come from legitimate and known sites and businesses.
Always have a good antivirus and keep it updated
Aside from the passwords, a good antivirus can provide extra protection. Install trusted antivirus software and make sure to keep it updated every time. One of the best antivirus in the market today is the Kaspersky’s Antivirus Protection. It provide extra protection, guards you from viruses, malwares, adwares on your computers, gadgets, devices. It also secures and stores passwords and private documents safely, and encrypts the data you send and receive online with VPN.
Providing the best protection on your IP address is very important in order to protect your online identity. And securing it using these steps is a good start to be safe and protected from various attacks hurled by these cybercriminals and hackers.