IP Address

IP Address: An IP address is a number that is assigned to each device that accesses the internet. Each device uses the IP address to access the information on the internet.

What is an IP address?

IP stands for Internet Protocol. An IP address is essentially what its name suggests: an address. The IP address is a number that is assigned to each device that accesses the internet. This can include devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones, gaming consoles, etc.

Each IP address describes where on the Internet the device or rather the device’s internet provider is located. The IP address does not necessarily one’s physical location. The internet then uses the IP addresses to transfer data from one IP address to another; similar to how we post a letter from one address to another.

The IP addresses are regulated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The IANA is responsible for allocating the IP address space globally. It also entrusts the five regional Internet registries (RIRs) to allocate IP address blocks to local Internet service providers.

How does an IP address work?

Essentially, what happens is that each computer needs an IP address to access the internet. Once it has access to the Internet, it has access to practically all of the information on the Internet. In order to browse a website, we would enter the website’s address into the address bar, for example: www. google .com. That address would be linked to an IP address, usually the server’s that hosts the website. That server would then send the data associated with the webpage to the computer’s IP address. The computer will then receive the data the browser would then display the webpage. The data has hence traveled between two IP addresses.

What are the different types of IP addresses?

IP addresses can be of two different types: static or dynamic. A static IP address is an IP address that stays the same. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides this IP to the customer, and either the customer or an ISP technician, configures the  computer’s network setting with the static IP. These kinds of IP addresses are becoming rare, as it can create network issues, especially if used without a good understanding of TCP/IP protocol.

Dynamic IP addresses are now commonly replacing static IP addresses. A dynamic IP address is an IP address that changes after a certain amount of time. The dynamic IP address is assigned by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which essentially runs on routers or dedicated DHCP servers. As more and more people are now using routers, this method is becoming increasingly common.

The DHCP assigns the computer with a dynamic IP address using a leasing system, which means that the computer can use the IP only during the lease period. Once the lease period expires, then a new lease period is generated at times with a new IP address. All this usually happens in the background, and most users would not even realize that their IP addresses have changed.

What is the format of an IP address?

Each IP address is a 32-bit binary number, which means that it consists of a string of 32 ones and zeros. The zeros and ones refer to the binary code and is 1-bit. The IP address is divided into four 8-bit pieces, which are then converted into decimal for easier identification and for human understandability.

For example: 00001010100010111100101110000011

Is divided into four parts: 00001010 10001011 11001011 10000011

Converted into decimal: 10.39.203.131

What are the ranges of an IP address?

The smallest IP address will consist of all zeros. For example: 00000000000000000000000000000000   =   0.0.0.0

The largest IP address will consist of all ones. For example: 11111111111111111111111111111111   =   255.255.255.255

What are the different versions of IP?

There are two versions of the Internet Protocol (IP): IP Version 4 (IPv4) and IP Version 6 (IPv6).

The IPv4 address is the one that we most commonly use. It looks like: 172.16.254.1

The IPv4 address consists of 32 binary bits which represent a unique address on the internet. Each number of the address is the decimal (base-10) representation for an eight-digit binary (base-2) number, is also called an octet.

The IPv6 address was developed because the IPv4 could only create about 4 billion addresses. Hence, people were considerably worried that these would soon run out. Hence, the IPv6 was developed. The IPv6 address look like: 2001:0db8:85a3:0042:1000:8a2e:0370:7334

The IPv6 address uses 128-bit addresses, instead of the traditional 32-bit. This allows it to create approximately 2^128 addresses or 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses.

However, the different versions are not compatible and will require people to change routers and other devices. Many computers are now compatible with the IPv6 settings.

 

Image Courtesy: grambleworld.com, guncyber-net.blogspot.com

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