When a computer uses the Internet Protocol (IP) to connect and communicate to a network, an IP address is assigned. It is a numerical label, made of ones and zeros, that acts as a unique identifier for every device on a network. It allows the data to be sent and received between different devices.
With the increasing importance of data security and the proliferation of connected devices, it is critical to understand how IP addresses work. Understanding how IP addresses work is important not only for cybersecurity professionals but also the everyday users. This article will introduce the world of IP addresses and discuss static IP comparison with others.
What is an IP Address?
As mentioned, an IP address is a special number that identifies every device on the internet or a local network. It is a “digital address” or a “phone number” that allows different devices to communicate with each other over the internet.
It consists of numbers or components separated by periods, such as 192.168.0.111. Each component of the address can range from 0 to 255. IP addresses are produced, allocated, and managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) globally.
How IP Addressing Works?
There are two types of addressing methods that are currently used: IPv4 and IPv6. The IPv4 addresses consist of 32 bits. On the other hand, IPv6 addresses consist of 128 bits and are the latest IP version.
Considering that IPv6 is a 128-bit hexadecimal address, it can offer up to 320 undecillion available addresses. This essentially solves the IPv4 exhaustion or “running out of addresses” problem found in IPv4. There are roughly 4.3 billion IP addresses that are available under IPv4.
➤ Components of IP Addressing
IP addressing uses two key components: the network ID and the host ID. The network ID is used for the identification of the network to which the device is connected. It routes data to the correct network. The internet service provider (ISP) assigns this component of the IP address. On the other hand, the host ID identifies the specific device on the network.
It is used to route data to the correct device within the network and is assigned by the network administrator. When the data is transferred over the internet, it is broken down into packets. These packets are routed to the appropriate destination using the network and host IDs.
Types of IP Addressing Systems
There are two main types of IP addressing systems: IPv4 and IPv6. Let’s discuss both of them in detail.
➤ IPv4 addressing
IPv4 addressing is considered the backbone of the internet and is still widely used today. It allows the devices to communicate with each other and exchange data over the internet.
IPv4 provides approximately 4.3 billion unique addresses. While it may seem like a large number, it is quickly becoming insufficient due to the proliferation of connected devices.
➤ IPv6 addressing
IPv6 is a more advanced form of IP addressing. It is designed to provide a larger number of unique addresses. It consists of 128 bits, which allows for approximately 320 undecillion unique addresses. This number is enough to support the ever-growing number of connected devices worldwide.
In addition, IPv6 addressing also offers improved security and more efficient routing. The address comprises eight groups of four hexadecimal digits. These groups are separated by colons. An IPv6 address might look like “2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334.”
Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses
As their names show, a static IP address provides a consistent IP address. On the other hand, the address keeps changing over time in a device using a dynamic IP address.
➤ Static IP Addresses
Static IP addressing is an important component of modern computer networking and is used extensively in many industries. A static IP address is manually assigned to a device on a network and remains the same over time. These addresses are often used for devices that require a fixed IP address. This includes servers, printers, routers, etc. This is because they provide a consistent address that can be easily accessed by other devices on the network.
Using a static IP address reduces the overhead associated with dynamic IP addressing. Additionally, by allowing for more granular control over network access, it can provide greater security. However, static IP addresses can be more difficult to manage than dynamic ones. This is because they require manual configuration on each device.
➤ Dynamic IP Addresses
In dynamic IP addressing, each device is only assigned an address when needed. The address can be reused by other devices when it is no longer needed. This factor allows for the efficient use of IP addresses. The assignment of a dynamic IP address is done by a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server/client, typically managed by an internet service provider.
Dynamic IPs are commonly used for devices that do not require a fixed IP address. This includes personal computers and mobile devices. To ensure greater flexibility, it can also be used for devices that require a fixed IP address for a limited time. For instance, devices requiring access to a remote server.
The biggest advantage of dynamic IP addressing is that it is easy to manage and configure. The assignment of addresses is managed by the DHCP server automatically. Additionally, dynamic IP addressing provides greater security by reducing the chance of your device being tracked by attackers.
Which is a better option?
When deciding between static and dynamic IP addresses, it’s important to consider the particular network requirements and devices being used. Static IP addresses offer a consistent address that can be easily accessed by other devices on the network. They can also be useful for applications that require port forwarding, such as remote access and gaming.
Dynamic IP addresses are automatically assigned by a DHCP server and can change periodically. They are commonly used for personal computers and mobile devices that don’t need a fixed IP address.
In terms of security, static IP addresses can be more vulnerable to attacks, as they are easier to target and can provide a persistent point of access for attackers. On the other hand, Dynamic IP addresses can provide protection by changing periodically, making it more difficult for attackers to target a specific device. It’s important to consider security, efficiency, and ease of use. It is also important to take the necessary measures to protect and secure your network and devices, regardless of the IP address.
How Do I Change and Protect My IP Address?
There can be various important reasons why you would want to change and protect your IP address. This includes accessing geographically restricted content, enhancing privacy and security, or troubleshooting network issues.
The most effective method to change or hide your IP address is using a virtual private network (VPN). It provides a secure and encrypted connection that can be used to protect your online activity and mask your IP address.
In conclusion, IP addresses provide a unique identifier for devices that allows them to transfer data over the internet. They are a critical component of modern computer networking. Whether using static or dynamic IP addressing, it is important to take appropriate measures to protect and secure your IP address.