Things You Should Know About Your IP Address

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What exactly are IP addresses? You should have heard the term thrown around in movies and shows. The shows might treat it like some highly technical jargon beyond your understanding.

However, by the end of this article, we’ll have it simplified for you. In addition, you will also learn why they are significant to online security and how to safeguard them.

What Are IP Addresses?

IP is an acronym that translates to Internet Protocol. As such, an IP address means an Internet Protocol address. They are a series of dotted numbers assigned to any device connected to the internet.

IP addresses are essential to internet communication. They help devices to communicate over the internet. Consequently, they are also crucial for retrieving online content for web servers.

With that in mind, note that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) allocate IP addresses. They do this automatically via a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.

However, not all IP addresses are the same. Some are static, and some are dynamic. Also, they may be public or private.

As the name implies, a public IP address is used outside a network, while private addresses operate within a network. Static IP addresses, though, differ from dynamic ones in that people manually create them.

Technically, IP addresses can also vary depending on whether they are IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) or IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). They differ from one another in the following ways:

  • IPv4 addresses are 32-bit, while IPv6 is 128-bit.
  • IPv4 addresses use four decimal numbers separated by dots. In contrast, IPv6 addresses use a hexadecimal format containing Some alphanumeric codes separated by semicolons.
  • IPv6 supports mobile devices better than IPv4.
  • Connection via IPv6 addresses is more secure thanks to built-in data encryption, authentication, etc.
  • IPv6 provides a larger supply of addresses than IPv4.

Significance of IP Addresses to Online Privacy and Security

Beyond the necessity of IP addresses for internet connectivity, they are significant in other ways. Here are some ways that IP addresses influence online privacy and security.

  • Location and Identity Tracking. Thanks to the uniqueness of IP addresses to devices, they can be identity factors. Tracking them wouldn’t expose any personal information about you. However, they would indicate your location and help reveal your activity. An exposed IP is a security risk where sensitive activity is underway. In other words, it is a negative in this regard.
  • IP addresses can serve as a form of authentication. Organizations may use deviated IP addresses to authorize access to resources. In this way, they secure their information. The addresses may also help web users maintain their sessions while browsing. As such, IPs are a positive here. However, note that security based solely on IP-based authentication is inherently weak.
  • The use of IP addresses to aid analytics is an offshoot of tracking. However, many websites legitimately track IPs for web analytics to improve performance. That said, there are obvious privacy concerns when collecting location information, clickstream data, etc. In other words, IP addresses are a negative regarding online privacy.

How can VPNs Safeguard IP Addresses?

IP addresses and online privacy are related topics. Regardless of whether the tracking uses them for legitimate reasons, an invasion of privacy is still involved.

Some security-conscious people don’t stand for any form of tracking. Since they must safeguard their IPs, many means exist to achieve this goal.

Regularly updating software, using multi-factor authentication, and employing firewalls are some such means. However, the most popular and affordable way for everyday web surfers to surf the internet may be by using virtual private networks (VPNs).

Amid the privacy tools available, the Apple Private Relay versus Virtual Private Network debate stands out for those safeguarding their digital footprint.

iCloud Private Relay offers Apple users encrypted browsing via Safari, masking IP addresses similar to VPNs. Yet, VPNs provide broader protection, encrypting all internet traffic, not just within Safari.

A reliable VPN encrypts user traffic and hides IP information by rerouting activities through another server.

Therefore, they make it more difficult for malicious entities to identify you via IP address. Furthermore, their encryption of traffic means data transmissions are just as secure.

Conclusion

All web navigation involves the use of IP addresses. As a result, any person or entity looking to protect their online privacy needs to understand IP addresses. However, there is no protection without understanding.

The above explanations should provide a foundational understanding of IP addresses. In turn, we hope to guide further research or inform decisions.

Whether it’s online privacy/security you desire or something else, you’re off to a great start if you read this.

Claire S. Allen
Claire S. Allen
Hi there! I'm Claire S. Allen, a vibrant Gemini who's as bold as my favorite color, red. I'm a fan of two cool things: strolling the streets in a red jacket and crafting articles that connect with readers. With my warm and friendly personality, Claire is sure to brighten up your day!
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