What is an IP Address – Definition and Explanation – Kaspersky

what is an ip address1

IP Address Definition

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 that govern the format of data sent over the Internet or the local network.

In essence, 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 to do this and form an essential part of how the Internet works.

Internet Protocol Address Types What is an IP address

? 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 192.158.1.38. Each number in the set can range from 0 to 255. Therefore, the full IP addressing range goes from

0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.

IP addresses are not random. They are produced and mapped mathematically 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 keep the Internet safe and allow it to be usable by everyone. Every time someone registers a domain on the Internet, they go through a domain name registrar, which pays a small fee to ICANN to register the domain.

Watch this video to learn what IP address is, why IP

address is important, and how to protect it from hackers:

How IP addresses work

If you want to understand why a particular device won’t connect the way you’d expect or want to troubleshoot why your network may not be working, helps understand how IP addresses work.

The Internet Protocol works in the same way as any other language, communicating using established guidelines for passing information. All devices find, send and exchange information with other connected devices that use this protocol. By speaking the same language, any computer anywhere can talk to each other.

The use of IP addresses usually happens behind the scenes. The process works like this:

your device

  1. indirectly connects to the internet by first connecting to an internet-connected network, which then grants your device access to the internet.
  2. When you’re at home, that network will likely be your Internet Service Provider (ISP). At work, it will be your company’s network.
  3. Your IP address is assigned to your device by your ISP.
  4. Your Internet activity goes through the ISP and is routed back to you, using your IP address. Since they are giving you access to the internet, it is their role to assign an IP address to your device.
  5. However, your IP address may change. For example, turning your modem or router on or off can change it. Or you can contact your ISP and they can change it for you.
  6. When you’re out and about, for example, traveling, and you take your device with you, your home IP address doesn’t come with you. This is because you will use another network (Wi-Fi in a hotel, airport or coffee shop, etc.) to access the internet and use a different (and temporary) IP address, assigned by the ISP of the hotel, airport or coffee shop.

As the process implies, there are different types of IP addresses,

which we explore below

.

There

are different categories

of IP addresses, and within each category, different types

.

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 terms public and private relate to network location, i.e. a private IP address is used within a network, while a public one is used outside a network.

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 such as 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 differentiates them on the network.

Public IP addresses

A public IP address is the primary address associated with the entire network. While each connected device has its own IP address, they are also included within the primary IP address of your network. As described above, your ISP provides your public IP address to your router. Typically, ISPs have a large pool of IP addresses that they distribute to their customers. Your public IP address is the address that all devices outside your Internet network will use to recognize your network.

Public IP addresses

come in two forms:

dynamic and static.

Addresses

Dynamic

IP

addresses

change automatically and regularly. ISPs buy a large pool of IP addresses and automatically assign them to their customers. Periodically, they reassign them and put the oldest IP addresses back into the pool for use with other clients. The reason for this approach is to generate cost savings for the ISP. Automating the regular movement of IP addresses means they don’t have to take specific actions to reset a customer’s IP address if they move home, for example. There are also security benefits, because a changing IP address makes it harder for criminals to hack into your network interface.

Addresses

Static IPs

Unlike dynamic IP addresses, static addresses remain consistent. Once the network assigns an IP address, it remains the same. Most individuals and businesses don’t need a static IP address, but for businesses planning to host their own server, it’s crucial to have one. This is because a static IP address ensures that websites and the email addresses linked to it will have a consistent IP address, vital if you want other devices to be able to find them consistently across the web.

This leads to the next point, which are the two types of website IP addresses.

For

website owners who

don’t host their own server and instead rely on a web hosting package, which is the case with most websites, there are two types of website IP addresses. These are shared and dedicated.

Shared IP addresses

Websites

that rely on shared hosting plans from web hosting providers are usually one of many websites hosted on the same server. This is usually the case for individual websites or SME websites, where traffic volumes are manageable and the sites themselves are limited in terms of number of pages, etc. Websites hosted in this way will have shared IP addresses.

Some

web hosting plans have the option to purchase a dedicated IP address (or addresses). This can make it easier to obtain an SSL certificate and allows you to run your own File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server. This makes it easy to share and transfer files with multiple people within an organization and allows for anonymous FTP sharing options. A dedicated IP address also allows you to access your website using only the IP address instead of the domain name, useful if you want to create and test it before registering your domain.

How to search for addresses

IP

The easiest way to check your router’s public IP address is to search for “What’s my IP address?” on Google. Google will show you the answer at the top of the page.

Other websites will show you the same information: they can see your public IP address because, when visiting the site, your router has made a request and therefore revealed the information. The IPLocation site goes further by displaying the name of your ISP and your city.

Usually, you will only receive an approximation of the location using this technique, where the provider is, but not the actual location of the device. If you’re doing this, remember to log out of your VPN as well. Obtaining the actual physical location address for the public IP address usually requires that a search warrant be sent to the ISP.

The lookup for

your private IP address varies by platform

: On Windows: Use

  • the command prompt
  • . Search for “cmd” (without quotation marks) using

  • Windows Search In the resulting pop-up box, type “ipconfig” (without quotation marks) to find
  • the information. On a Mac: Go to System Preferences Select Network and the information should be visible.

On an iPhone

:

  • Go to Settings
  • Select Wi-Fi and click the “i” in a circle () next to the network you are on: the IP address should be visible on the DHCP tab.

If you need to check the IP addresses of other devices on your network, go to the router. How you access the router depends on the brand and software you use. In general, you should be able to type the IP address of the router gateway into a web browser on the same network to access it. From there, you’ll need to navigate to something like “connected devices,” which should show a list of all devices currently or recently connected to the network, including their IP addresses.

IP Address Security Threats

Cyber criminals can use various techniques to obtain your IP address. Two of the most common are social engineering and online harassment.

Attackers can use social engineering to trick you into revealing your IP address. For example, they can find you through Skype or a similar instant messaging app, which uses IP addresses to communicate. If you chat with strangers using these apps, it’s important to note that they can see your IP address. Attackers can use a Skype resolver tool, where they can find your IP address from your username.

Criminals can track your IP address simply by stalking your online activity. Any number of online activities can reveal your IP address, from playing video games to commenting on websites and forums.

Once they have your IP address,

attackers can go to an IP address tracking website, such as whatismyipaddress.com, type it in, and then get an idea of your location. They can then cross-reference other open source data if they want to validate whether the IP address is specifically associated with you. They can then use LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media that shows where you live, and then see if that matches the given area.

If a Facebook stalker

uses a phishing attack against people under their name to install spying malware, the IP address associated with their system will likely confirm your identity to the stalker

.

If cybercriminals know your IP address, they can launch attacks against you or even impersonate you. It is important to be aware of the risks and how to mitigate them. Risks include:

Downloading illegal content

using your IP address

Hackers have been known to use hacked IP addresses to download illegal content and anything else they don’t want tracked. For example, using the identity of your IP address, criminals could download pirated movies, music, and videos, which would violate your ISP’s terms of use, and much more severely, content related to terrorism or child pornography. This could mean that you, through no fault of your own, could attract the attention of the police.

If

they know your IP address, hackers can use geolocation technology to identify your region, city, and state. They just need to dig a little deeper on social media to identify their home and potentially steal it when they know it’s far away.

Criminals

can directly attack your network and launch a variety of assaults. One of the most popular is a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack. This type of cyberattack occurs when hackers use previously infected machines to generate a large volume of requests to flood the target system or server. This creates too much traffic for the server to handle, resulting in an interruption of services. Essentially, it shuts down your internet. While this attack is usually launched against video game companies and services, it can occur against an individual, although this is much less common. Online gamers are at particularly high risk of this, as their screen is visible during streaming (in which an IP address can be discovered).

Hacking your Internet device

uses ports and your IP address to connect. There are thousands of ports for each IP address, and a hacker who knows your IP can test those ports to try to force a connection. For example, they could take over your phone and steal your information. If a criminal gains access to your device, they could install malware on it.

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How to protect and

hide

your IP address

Hiding your IP address is one way to protect your personal information and identity online. The two main ways to hide

your IP address are: Using a proxy server

  1. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) A
  2. proxy server is an intermediary server through which traffic is routed: The Internet servers you visit only see the IP address of that proxy server and not its IP address. When those servers

  • send you information, It goes to the proxy server, which then routes it to you.

One drawback of proxy servers is that some of the services can spy on you, so you have to trust it. Depending on which one you use, they may also insert ads into your browser.

VPN

offers a better solution:

when you connect your computer, smartphone, or tablet, to a VPN, the device acts as if it were on the same local network as the VPN.

  • All network traffic is sent over a secure connection to the VPN.
  • Because

  • your computer behaves
  • as if it were on the network, you can

  • safely access local network resources even when you are in another country
  • .

  • You can also use the internet as if you were present at the VPN’s location, which has benefits if you’re using public Wi-Fi or want to access geo-blocked websites.

Kaspersky Secure Connection is a VPN that protects you on public Wi-Fi, keeps your communications private, and ensures you’re not exposed to phishing, malware, viruses, and other cyber threats

.

When should I use

VPN

? Using a VPN hides your IP address and redirects your traffic through a separate server, making it much safer for you online. Situations where you can use a VPN include:

When using public

Wi-Fi When using a public Wi-Fi network

,

even one that is password protected, a VPN is recommended. If a hacker is on the same Wi-Fi network, it’s easy for them to spy on your data. The basic security employed by the average public Wi-Fi network does not provide strong protection against other users on the same network.

Using a VPN will add an extra layer of security to your data, ensuring that you bypass the public Wi-Fi ISP and encrypting all your communication.

If

you’re traveling to a foreign country, for example, China, where sites like Facebook are blocked, a VPN can help you access services that may not be available

in that country.

The VPN will often allow you to use streaming services that you paid for and have access to in your home country, But they are not available in another due to international rights issues. Using a VPN can allow you to use the service as if you were at home. Travelers can also find cheaper airfare when using a VPN, as prices can vary from region to region.

When you work

remotely

This is especially relevant in the post-COVID world, where many people are working remotely. Often, employers require the use of a VPN to access company services remotely for security reasons. A VPN that connects to your office server can give you access to internal company networks and resources when you’re not in the office. You can do the same for your home network while you’re away from home.

When you just want some privacy

Even in the comfort of your home, using the internet for everyday purposes, using a VPN can be a good idea. Every time you access a website, the server you connect to logs your IP address and attaches it to all the other data the site can learn about you: your browsing habits, what you click on, how much time you spend looking at a particular page. They may sell this data to advertising companies who use it to tailor ads directly to you. This is why ads on the internet sometimes feel strangely personal: it’s because they are. Your IP address may also be used to track your location, even when your location services are disabled. Using a VPN prevents you from leaving footprints on the web.

Don’t forget your mobile devices either. They also have IP addresses, and you probably use them in a wider variety of locations than your home computer, including public Wi-Fi hotspots. It’s advisable to use a VPN on your mobile when connecting to a network you may not fully trust.

Other ways to protect

your privacy Change privacy settings in

instant messaging

apps

Apps installed on your device are a major source of IP address hacking. Instant messaging and other calling apps can be used as a tool by cybercriminals. Using instant messaging apps only allows direct connections from contacts and doesn’t accept calls or messages from people you don’t know. Changing your privacy settings makes it harder to find your IP address because people who don’t know you can’t connect with you.

Create unique passwords Your

device password

is the only barrier that can restrict people’s access to your device. Some people prefer to stick to their devices’ default passwords, which makes them vulnerable to attacks. Like all your accounts, your device should have a unique, strong password that isn’t easy to decode. A strong password contains a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters. This will help protect your device against IP address hacking.

Stay alert to

phishing emails and malicious content

A high proportion of malware and device tracking software is installed through phishing emails. When you connect to any site, this provides the site with access to your IP address and device location, making it vulnerable to hacking. Be vigilant when opening emails from unknown senders and avoid clicking on links that could send you to unauthorized sites. Pay close attention to the content of emails, even if they appear to come from well-known sites and legitimate businesses.

Use a good antivirus solution

and keep it up to date

Install comprehensive antivirus software and keep it up to date. For example, Kaspersky’s antivirus protection protects you from viruses on your PC and Android devices, protects and stores your passwords and private documents, and encrypts the data you send and receive online with VPN.

Protecting your IP address is a crucial aspect of protecting your online identity. Protecting you through these steps is one way to stay safe against the wide variety of attacks by cybercriminals.

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