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What is an IP address? - Everything you need to know

IP addresses form the backbone of the web's infrastructure. In this article, we are going in-depth on how they work and see the best ways to protect your IP address.

The IP address is considered the cornerstone for the entire architecture of the Internet, making online communication and access possible. Understanding IP addresses would, of course, help secure your online business transactions and make web scraping more effective.
In this post, we'll look at how IP addresses function, different categories of IP addresses, and also the challenges in managing the IP address.

Understanding IP Addresses

An IP address is more like an identifier for any device that is connected to the internet. Similar to a street address, an IP address gives information about the whereabouts of a device, both virtually and geographically. This system makes it easy for the websites and users to understand where to send the requested data; hence, the web pages you open and messages you receive are routed to your device.
The Role of IP Addresses in Geolocation
IP addresses also facilitate an approximate determination of a device's location. While that might sound scary, take comfort in the fact that general users can't really see your IP address. Still, if privacy is a concern, you can also use proxies, such as those from Anonymous Proxies, in a way that allows your IP address to be hidden.
What Does "IP" Mean?
"IP" stands for Internet Protocol, and it represents the backbone of internet connectivity. Every IP address is assigned by an Internet Service Provider and typically looks something like this:
Every city, and often even individual neighborhoods, have pools of IP addresses allocated to them. ISPs divide these addresses among their subscribers.
In addition, IP addresses may be static or dynamic. Static IP does not change unless a person asks his ISP to change or use a proxy service.
Of late, ISPs have recently been assigning dynamic IP addresses that are periodically changed for each user. Dynamic allocation makes it efficient for ISPs to handle resources and bring down costs.

What Is DNS?

Domain Name System is one of the major protocols that complement IP addresses and comprises the core of online communication.
While IP addresses are numerical sequences through which the computers identify each other, DNS translates these numerical IP addresses into readable domain names. Therefore, DNS makes it very easy for users to navigate the Internet. Instead of typing in a complicated IP address like, you can type in example.com.
DNS works by translating those friendly domain names into the numerical IP addresses that computers use to find each other on the internet. This process is facilitated by the setup and allotment of DNS servers for each computer by an Internet Service Provider.
To facilitate fast Internet usage and quick loading of websites, DNS servers that are geographically nearest to the user are provided by the ISPs. This proximity reduces latency and improves bandwidth.

What Is The Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6?

For the moment, there exist only 2 types of IP addresses and these are IPv4 and IPv6.

What is IPv4?

IPv4 is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol, launched in 1981 after predecessors versions one through three. IPv4 uses a 32 bit address format. This implies that there are about 4.3 billion unique IP address that can be generated using this protocol. These numbers alone are enough to facilitate global internet connectivity providing a platform on which devices from all over the world can connect and communicate.
Nevertheless, the IPv4 address space has been running out due to proliferation of internet-enabled devices. There were approximately one million IPv4 addresses left by 2019 marking a necessity of an extensive addressing system that can accommodate more devices.

What is IPv6?

IPv6 was introduced in 2012 so as to address the limitations of IPv4. The number of available available IP addresses increased astronomically as a result of the new addressing format having 128 bits: there are now 340 undecillion of them (340,282,366,920,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456). This ensure that, into the foreseeable future, there would be more than enough number of IP addresses to take care of the ever rising number of internet connected devices.

What Types of IP Addresses Exist?

Consumer IP addresses

When you sign up with an ISP, you are usually given a consumer IP address. However, these addresses come in different types. Let's see these different categories to help you understand how internet protocol addresses work.

Private and Public IP Addresses

Your router, through DHCP, assigns private IP addresses to devices on your local network. These are invisible to other networks and distinguish devices from one another that share one network. Your router acts like a gatekeeper, allowing you to manage your internal network using whatever IP address scheme you want.
Public IP addresses are assigned to you by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). These addresses are like identification tags, presented to the world so that anyone on the internet can identify your network. This basically means that when you connect with the internet, using your computer, your router will be using your public IP address while communicating with other networks. It is more like your network's way of saying, "Hey, I'm here!"

Static and Dynamic IP Addresses

static IP address is a consistent address assigned to a device by an ISP. Basically, it means your IP address remains the same until you request a change. They can come in very handy for activities that might need a consistent connection, for example, hosting a site, playing online games, or maintaining email services. Be mindful, however, that running with a static IP address may really make your network subject to cyber threats if it is not well secured.
On the other hand, a dynamic IP address changes automatically and at regular intervals. This is the most common type of IP address, managed through the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. Dynamic IP addresses are economical for ISPs and can help reduce the cost for home users. They add to security as well, since the regularly changing IP addresses will create complexity for the hackers to attack your network.

Shared and Dedicated IP Addresses

Many website owners use web hosting services, through which they are given a shared or a dedicated IP address. A shared IP address is used by several different domains, but they are all hosted on one physical server. It is cheap and good enough for small, flat websites that don't attract too many visits each month. But sharing an IP address means that if one of the sites on that server is blacklisted for spamming, that could affect all sites using that IP address.
On the other hand, a dedicated IP address is assigned to a single domain. This is the best option for websites that usually have larger volumes of traffic and are also more complex. It also offers more control over the IP address, easier management of SSL certificates, and accommodates secure file transfers via a dedicated File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server. Much more expensive than a shared IP, a dedicated IP address ensures your site is not impacted by the others.

What Are The Risks Associated With Your Ip Address?

Hacking your device

Although hacking someone solely through their IP address is challenging, it’s not impossible. Hackers might exploit open ports to establish a connection with your device, allowing them to steal personal information.

Tailor-made Spam

An IP address discloses information regarding your web activities, for instance, what is being read or watched. The advertisers use this information to spam you with personalized ads, making your online experience less private and more invasive.

Doing Illegal Activities with your IP

Hackers steal your IP address to perpetuate their illegal activities. They can mask their illegal activities with your IP address by uploading malware into your device. Their illegal activities might be traced back to your IP address and if this really happens, even if you are innocent, you can enter in some serious trouble.

Tracking Your Location

Your IP address is capable of giving an approximate location as far as to your country and city, and sometimes even your zip code. It is improbable that someone would pinpoint your exact house number with just your IP address, but this information can be combined with other data to get a more precise location.

Direct attack on your network

If someone gets a hold of your IP address, they could possibly do a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on you. This is where they flood your network with so much traffic that your internet connection becomes useless. You might lose access to websites, email or online accounts.

How Do I Find My IP Address?

Locating your IP address may be pretty easy, depending on whether you want to know your public or private IP address
To find your public IP address, you just need to search What is my IP address? online. Google will show your public IP at the top of the search results. For additional information, such as your estimated location and internet service provider, you can explore other search results.
Finding your private IP address requires accessing your device’s settings. Below are some examples.
On an iPhone:
  • Go to Settings.
  • Tap on Wi-Fi.
  • Find the network you're connected to and tap on the little i icon next to it. If you scroll down a little you should see your IP address.
  • On an Android smartphone:
    Note: Depending on the nature and type of device used, the interface may not be similar.
  • Navigate to Settings.
  • Tap on Wireless & networks or WLAN.
  • Select Network & Internet, then Wi-Fi.
  • Tap on the Wi-Fi network you're connected to. Your IP address should now appear. If you don't see it, search Configure or Advanced options.
  • On a Mac:
  • Search for System Settings
  • Select Network.
  • Click on Wi-Fi, then Details
  • On Windows:
  • Open the Command Prompt by searching for "cmd".
  • Type ipconfig and press Enter. Your IP information will be displayed.
  • How Can I Protect My IP Address?

    If you feel that your IP address exposure would not put you at risk, then you are wrong. In reality, you should keep in mind a few ways to protect your IP. Here are some effective strategies that can help protect your IP address:

    With Proxies and VPNs

    Employing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a proxy is a well-established method for protecting your online identity. Both tools conceal your IP address by displaying an alternate one. A proxy server acts as an intermediary, routing your internet connection through it, while a VPN encrypts all data you send and receive. Morever, if you use a mobile device, you might need to look at our mobile proxies.

    Using TOR

    TOR stands for The Onion Router. It is free, open-source software that makes your online activities anonymous by moving your internet traffic through a network of volunteer-run servers, disguising your IP address and location. While Tor is great for increasing your privacy, it will be at the price of a slower connection.

    Optimize Your Privacy Settings

    Set all your applications—especially messaging applications—to "private" when possible. It is important to make sure not to call, message or email someone you do not know because that could be a ploy to capture your IP address.
    These are just a few methods to help protect your IP address. For a detailed guide, you can read our article on "How to Hide Your IP Address."


    An IP address acts as your digital address, allowing clients to connect to servers and enabling servers to know where to send the requested web data. However, in the business world, you should always keep high-level privacy measures in place, especially for web scraping operations and data analysis projects. It is important to realize that IP addresses are important and the information they reveal is of great importance.
    To get protection for your IP address, you need to adjust your privacy settings, use proxies and VPNs and consider using Tor for anonymity. There are, of course, more ways you can protect your IP address; these are just a few of them. You can check our article How to Hide Your IP Address for an in-depth guide.

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