top of page
  • Writer's pictureLARUS Foundation

Understanding how IP Addresses work

Updated: Mar 22

Demystifying IP Addresses: A Simple Guide to How They Work

In the vast realm of the internet, every device has its own unique identifier, much like a fingerprint. This identifier is known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. In simple terms, an IP address is a numeric label assigned to devices that connect to the internet, enabling them to communicate with each other.

Let's take a closer look at how IP addresses work and why they are crucial for seamless online communication.


1. What is an IP Address?

Imagine your device, whether it's a computer, laptop, or even a smart toy, as having its own digital address. This digital address is what we call an IP address. It's like a postal code that helps devices find and communicate with each other on the internet or within local networks.


There are two main versions of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4, the older version, supports up to 4 billion addresses, while IPv6, the newer version, accommodates trillions of addresses to meet the growing demands of today's devices.


2. How Does an IP Address Work?

An IP address plays a crucial role in helping your device locate and retrieve data on the internet. Think of it as the GPS for your internet-connected devices. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocates these addresses, and they are not random; they follow a mathematical structure.

The range of IP addresses spans from to, each uniquely identifying a device.


3. Types of IP Addresses


1. Public IP Address:

  • Assigned to the main device connecting to the internet (usually a router).

  • Essential for tasks like online gaming, email servers, and creating remote connections.


2. Private IP Address:

  • Assigned within local networks by routers.

  • Allows devices to communicate within the same network, preserving IPv4 address space.


3. Static IP Address:

  • Manually configured and fixed to a device.

  • Doesn't change automatically and is often assigned by internet service providers.


4. Dynamic IP Address:

  • Automatically assigned by routers using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol).

  • Changes with each network login session, cycling through available addresses.


IPv4 and IP Address Classes

IPv4, the fourth version of the Internet Protocol, utilizes 32-bit binary numbers to create unique addresses. Different classes of IP addresses are reserved for specific purposes, including default networks, loopback addresses, and multicast usage.

Additionally, IP addresses are divided into classes A, B, C, D, and E, each serving different networking needs.


4. IPv4 vs. IPv6

IPv4's limitation of around 4.3 billion unique addresses led to the introduction of IPv6. IPv6 operates in a hexadecimal format, allowing for billions of unique IP addresses. With eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, IPv6 theoretically offers an unlimited number of addresses.


a. Locating Your IP Address

Locating your IP address is a simple task. On Windows, type "cmd" and then "ipconfig" in the pop-up box. For Mac users, find it in System Preferences under Network settings. Mobile users can locate their IP address in the Wi-Fi menu under Advanced settings.


b. IP Address vs. MAC Address

While both serve as unique identifiers, a MAC address is the physical address of a device, assigned by the manufacturer. On the other hand, an IP address is the identifier of the connection of the network with that device. MAC addresses are static, while IP addresses can change dynamically.


c. Security Threats Related to IP Addresses

Several security threats are associated with IP addresses, including cybercriminals using them for deception, tracking locations, launching DDoS attacks, and downloading illegal content.

To protect your IP address, consider using a VPN, proxy server, dynamic IP addresses, NAT firewall, or even resetting your modem.


5. Understanding the Essence of IP Addresses

IP addresses serve as the backbone of internet communication, allowing devices to find and communicate with each other. From the early days of IPv4 to the expansive capabilities of IPv6, these digital addresses play a crucial role in shaping our online experiences.

By understanding the basics of IP addresses and implementing security measures, users can navigate the digital landscape with confidence, knowing their devices are securely connected in the vast web of the internet.

22 views0 comments


bottom of page