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What is an IP address?

Apr 06, 2016 · 3 min read

What is an IP address?

IP Address or Internet Protocol Address is a string of numbers which identifies a computer or a device on IP/TCP network. Basically, it is a number assigned to each device connected to a computer network. An IP Address is written as four numbers separated by periods. Each of these numbers can range from 0 to 255. For example, it is possible for may be an IP address.

Types of IP addresses:

private – an IP address for your network devices assigned by your router. This IP address cannot be routed over the internet and can only be used internally.

public – an IP address assigned to you by your ISP. There are two kinds of public IP addresses:

  • Dynamic IP Address
  • Static IP Address

Dynamic IP Address

This is the IP address which is commonly used in almost all households. These IP addresses are also assigned dynamically by the ISPs. Such IP addresses change every time you reboot your device, add a new device to your network or your network changes configuration. The changes rarely have any impact on your connection to the internet services.

Static IP Address

A Static IP is the one which is assigned permanently by your ISP. Such IP address remains constant unaffected by any number of reboots performed on the system. Such IP Addresses are typically assigned to servers which host websites, provide emails, and FTP services. They may also be assigned to any public organization which may need the same address every time. Individuals might use it for certain types of gaming or VOIP connections that require very stable connections. 

However, Static IP Addresses are expensive and are rarely used for individual household needs. The ISPs charge extra for assigning a static IP. Such IP addresses also require additional security measures as hackers may try to break into such systems using brute force attacks and they are also easier to track by data mining companies.

Functions of an IP address

The functions of an IP Address are twofold:

The first function is to deliver the message or the request to the required destination.

The second function is for the receiver knows about the origin of the message or the request. This also enables it to send the request to the appropriate location.

What information can be extracted from an IP address?

Your IP address contains a lot of information which is used by the service providers across the web. It can trace the origin and destination of requests made online. Here are some examples of information contained within an IP:

IP address ownership: the IP address contains information regarding the owner of the IP address. Don’t be alarmed because you’re no the owner of the IP address, but your ISP is. All the public information about the IP address will reveal the name of the ISP only.

Location info: Yes, IP address may be used to geo-locate your approximate location. Your exact location might not be pinpointed, but can surely point towards the nearest ISP distribution equipment.

Can your web activity be traced and assigned to your IP?

If someone were to force your ISP to cross reference the particular public IP address with the logged web data and ISP customer records- a digital footprint could be matched with your personal details. 

This is worrisome, as we have seen attempts by private companies or governments asking ISPs to reveal information about an individual by identifying that an IP address has sent or received particular data online.

An example from Australia comes to mind, where a film producer for Dallas Buyers Club had identified over 4500 IP addresses they believed torrented their film. They asked ISPs in Australia to reveal personal contact details for identified users in reference to IP addresses associated with torrenting files. ISPs refused to reveal the information, which started a lengthy court battle. The court case ended after a year in courts – with the case being dropped, however, it showed that users action online can be traced and if ISPs cooperated, could be traced back to a household.

How to Hide your IP address

NordVPN service encrypts user online data by hiding internet user IP address by replacing it with one of NordVPN server IP addresses (Currently over 4000+ servers worldwide).

Related: 10 Reasons to Hide Your IP

All the data sent through NordVPN connection passes through a secure tunnel. This secure tunnel encrypts all your data so that none of your personal information is revealed to any third party or any unauthorized person while you browse online. This ensures both security and anonymity online.

Christina Craig
Christina Craig successVerified author

Christina is a community manager and the heart, the voice and the soul of NordVPN. She is always up for a conversation with our community of users and blog readers.

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