Internet Protocol (IP)
An IP address is a unique address that identifies a device on the internet or a local network. IP stands for “Internet Protocol,” which is the set of rules governing the format of data sent via the internet or local network.
IP addresses are the identifier that allows information to be sent between devices on a network: they contain location information and make devices accessible for communication. The internet needs a way to differentiate between different computers, routers, and websites. IP addresses provide a way of doing so and form an essential part of how the internet works.
What is Internet Protocol (IP) ?
An IP address is a string of numbers separated by periods. IP addresses are expressed as a set of four numbers — an example address might be 18.104.22.168. Each number in the set can range from 0 to 255. So, the full IP addressing range goes from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.
- IP addresses are not random.
- IP addresses are mathematically produced and allocated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a division of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a non-profit organization that was established in the United States in 1998 to help maintain the security of the internet and allow it to be usable by all.
- Each time anyone registers a domain on the internet, they go through a domain name registrar, who pays a small fee to ICANN to register the domain.
- An internet protocol (IP) address allows computers to send and receive information.
- There are four types of IP addresses: public, private, static, and dynamic.
- An IP address allows information to be sent and received by the correct parties, which means they can also be used to track down a user’s physical location.
How an IP Address Works
An IP address allows computers to send and receive data over the internet. Most IP addresses are purely numerical, but as internet usage grows, letters have been added to some addresses.
Types of IP addresses
There are different categories of IP addresses, and within each category, different types.
Consumer IP addresses
Every individual or business with an internet service plan will have two types of IP addresses:Their private IP addresses and their public IP address.
- The public and private are indicative of the location of the network—private being used inside a network while the public is used outside of a network
- Static and dynamic IP address indicate permanency and used in public IP address.
Private IP addresses
Every device that connects to your internet network has a private IP address. This includes computers, smartphones, and tablets but also any Bluetooth-enabled devices like speakers, printers, or smart TVs. With the growing internet of things, the number of private IP addresses you have at home is probably growing. Your router needs a way to identify these items separately, and many items need a way to recognize each other. Therefore, your router generates private IP addresses that are unique identifiers for each device that differentiate them on the network.
Public IP addresses
A public IP address is the primary address associated with your whole network. While each connected device has its own IP address, they are also included within the main IP address for your network. As described above, your public IP address is provided to your router by your ISP. Typically, ISPs have a large pool of IP addresses that they distribute to their customers. Your public IP address is the address that all the devices outside your internet network will use to recognize your network.
Public IP addresses
Public IP addresses come in two forms – dynamic and static.
Dynamic IP addresses
Dynamic IP addresses change automatically and regularly. ISPs buy a large pool of IP addresses and assign them automatically to their customers. Periodically, they re-assign them and put the older IP addresses back into the pool to be used for other customers. The rationale for this approach is to generate cost savings for the ISP. Automating the regular movement of IP addresses means they don’t have to carry out specific actions to re-establish a customer’s IP address if they move home, for example. There are security benefits, too, because a changing IP address makes it harder for criminals to hack into your network interface.
- Dynamic IP address has been assigned by a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server and is subject to change.
- Dynamic IP addresses are the most common type of internet protocol addresses.
- Dynamic IP addresses are only active for a certain amount of time, after which they expire.
- The computer will either automatically request a new lease, or the computer may receive a new IP address.
Static IP addresses
In static addresses remain consistent. Once the network assigns an IP address, it remains the same. Most individuals and businesses do not need a static IP address, but for businesses that plan to host their own server, it is crucial to have one. This is because a static IP address ensures that websites and email addresses tied to it will have a consistent IP address — vital if you want other devices to be able to find them consistently on the web.
- A static IP address is one that was manually created, as opposed to having been assigned.
- A static address also does not change
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