What is an IP address and what it does

Last Updated on August 31, 2021 by Anastasios Antoniadis

The internet is connected to billions of devices that visit billions of websites each day. Ever wondered how all of this is managed and how these billions of devices don’t get misdirected all of the time? Well, you have your IP address to thank for that.

Most people are already familiar with the concept of an IP address. It’s a unique and designated address that identifies your device on the internet or a local network. IP is short for “Internet Protocol”.

Internet Protocol is a set of rules that governs the data format you send through the internet or a local network. An IP always contains information about the location of devices and allows them to communicate. Why is this necessary? Because the internet always needs a way to differentiate between various computers, websites, and routers.

Because of this, an IP address is an essential part of the internet (and the way the internet works). In the remainder of the text, we’ll explain the concept of an IP address in greater detail. Also, we’ll focus on why most people tend to hide it and how you can do that.

How are IP addresses generated?

An IP address is written in the form of numbers separated by periods. It’s always expressed in a set of four different numbers, e.g., 148.245.3.12. Each number between the periods can range from zero to 255. 

It can, thus, be a combination of any four numbers between 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. However, an IP address is never random. It’s always mathematically produced by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).

The IANA is a branch of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organization founded in 1988 in the US. Its primary purpose is to maintain internet security and make it easy to use for all.

Are IP addresses permanent?

So are IP addresses like home addresses and never change? Not exactly. There are two types of IP addresses when it comes to how permanent they are:

  • Dynamic IP addresses. These are the most common types of IP addresses. A dynamic IP address means that it changes each time you connect to a new internet source. When you’re on your home wifi, you have one IP, when you’re on cellular data, you have another, and when you’re on public wifi, you get yet another IP.
  • Static IP addresses. These never change and are pretty rare. A static IP address might be necessary for a device that many people use, and that needs to be easy to find. For instance, businesses that use their own servers would benefit from giving them static IPs. A static IP can also help remote workers access their computers even if they’re miles away from them.

What can your IP address reveal about you?

Your IP address collects loads of data about you. Here are the most important things to know: 

  • It knows which websites you visit and how often you visit them. Businesses can use this information in several ways. They can create targeted ads based on your search history and show you the most relevant ones. Also, businesses can track the activity on their website and figure out how many unique and returning users they have.
  • An IP address can also reveal your location to some extent. No, it won’t disclose your exact address, but it will show the country and area you’re in. That may not be super revealing, especially since there are probably millions of people with IPs showing the same location. Still, you wouldn’t want a random stranger on the internet to be able to figure out the city you live in, right? Also, getting blocked from websites based on your location isn’t fun.

If you want to find out what your IP reveals about you, visit ipleak.net. You’ll see the country, region, city, and accuracy span of your location. Keep in mind that anybody who knows your IP address can see the same.

Why do people hide their IPs?

As you just learned, everything you do on the internet can be traced. Although you can probably already think of a reason or two why you wouldn’t want everyone to know your IP, here are the main reasons why people hide them:

  • To stop businesses from tracking them. When you sign up on Facebook or Google, you permit them to track your search history. To prevent this, people hide their IP addresses with a VPN or a proxy, such as a Japanese proxy. You can read more about a Japanese proxy on the website of one of the most prominent proxy providers.
  • To hide all activity from their ISP. ISP stands for Internet Service Provider, and in the US, there are no restrictions that can stop an ISP from tracking your online activity. It might put your data at risk, which is why hiding your IP is recommended to protect it.
  • To protect themselves from hackers. Hackers have always been relentless, but even more so since so many people moved to remote working. They have many ways of infecting devices with malware and spying on people online. Sometimes, these hackers might just be companies trying to illegally collect data on their customers to increase sales. Nevertheless, you don’t want anyone to be able to spy on you. Hiding your IP address is a great first step to take in protecting yourself from hackers.

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