Getting familiar with IP addresses: the basics you need to know.
IP address stands for Internet Protocol address and serves as a personal identifier for your computing device. A unique IP address is assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to identify your computer among billions of others connected to the Internet.
Thanks to IP addresses, data can successfully reach its destination on the web – similarly to your home address, which lets a mail carrier to deliver mail to you. Simply speaking, IP addresses are necessary to send and receive data on the Internet: when networked devices talk to each other, they address themselves by IP address.
An IP address is a numeric label. The way it is constructed depends on the Internet Protocol version. Currently, most ISPs use IPv4 to assign IP addresses to their clients. IPv4 addresses are based on 32 binary bits and consist of four numbers, varying from 0 to 255 and separated by dots, for example, 126.96.36.199.
With the evolution of the Internet technology and growing demand for IP addresses, a slight panic for running out of possible unique identifiers had risen. For this reason, the IPv6 version of the Internet protocol was introduced to expand numeric labeling options.
IPv6 addressing is based on 128 binary bits. An IPv6 address consists of 8 segments separated by colons instead of dots, for example, fr28:3ffe:0000:0000:0000:0000:4587:9312. Number groups containing only 0 are often omitted to save space. Instead, a colon is added to indicate the gap so that it is fr28:3ffe::4587:9312.
Even though all IP addresses are formed of numbers and letters, they are used for different purposes. Here are the main types of IP addresses:
If you have VPN enabled, you first connect to a server run by your VPN provider through an encrypted connection, which is also called a VPN tunnel. All data traveling between your device and the VPN server is encrypted so that only you and the server can see it.
The IP address discloses your geographical location. Even though it can’t reveal your exact address, it can quite precisely show a country, region and city from which you’re accessing the Internet .
Based on the IP address, your ISP can monitor your online activity. What is more, there are other snoopers out there who might be willing to gather your personal information. These include advertisers who can track your online behavior and ads you click on, or cybercriminals, who are inventing new ways to access your data and use it for illegal purposes. Having this in mind, protecting your IP address with VPN to avoid unwanted snoopers is worth considering.
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