What is an IP Address?

  • March 18, 2024
  • 5 min read
What is an IP Address?

Every time you go online, you are assigned a unique IP address in a set of four numbers. This address might seem like random numbers, but it contains information about your location. The internet needs this information to allow you to exchange data with websites and servers.

It’s like a virtual home address used by websites and organizations to track your online behavior. That way, companies have access to your personal information used for ad targeting practices. If you want to stay anonymous, you have to hide an IP address before connecting to the internet.

Definition of IP address

An IP address is used to identify a device or a local network every time you go online. IP stands for Internet Protocol, a set of rules that defines the way data is sent and received on the internet.

An IP address is a vital part of every network because it allows data transactions between two devices or networks. Every IP address contains information about your location to allow online communication and data transfers. Without an IP address, the internet wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a device, router, and a computer. In other words, the internet can’t work without assigning IP addresses to every unique user.

Characteristics of IP addresses

Every IP address is made up of four sets of numbers. For example, – every number has a range between 0 and 255. There are billions of IP addresses in use every day. They are produced and assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, a subdivision of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Without this system, online communication would be much more complex, and most messages sent wouldn’t reach the right recipients.

Types of IP addresses

There are many different types of IP addresses divided into multiple categories. Each category then has numerous types. Here’s a quick overview of the most frequently used types of IPs.

Consumer IP addresses

Every user or business has two types of IPs. The first one is their private IP, and the second one is the public IP. A private IP is used to communicate with other devices connected to the same local network, while a public IP is used every time you connect to the internet.

1. Private IP addresses

Every device connected to a network has its private IP address. That includes computers and laptops, tablets, printers, smart TVs, and all other devices connected to a network. The number of available IPs keeps growing as more and more devices need an internet connection to work.

2. Public IP addresses

A public address is assigned to all devices within a local network. So, all devices have their own unique IPs, but they also share another public IP provided by your internet service provider. Most IPSs have vast pools of available IP addresses they distribute to each customer. It’s also the IP used by websites and organizations to identify your location. Public IP addresses are then divided into dynamic and static IPs.

  • Dynamic IPs are a type of public IP addresses that are re-assigned periodically by your internet provider. They are harder to track, as ISPs change them without the user’s knowledge.
  • Static IPs are very different. Once you get your static IP, you will keep using it for a long time. They are usually used only by businesses that host servers that need a constant connection.

Common IP security threats

Those who know how IP addresses work can use them to learn quite a lot about their owners. Cybercriminals use IP addresses to track individual user behavior and find out all kinds of details about them. However, they can go one step further and hack your IP address to gain full access to your computer files.

Furthermore, they can easily find out where you live and organize DDOS attacks to directly hack your devices. Hackers use the same methods to locate and steal valuable information using public IPs.

Best ways to hide an IP address

You can use multiple methods to hide an IP address and make it much harder for someone to track your online behavior. Here are three of the most popular methods:

1. VPN

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it protects your online privacy by switching your original IP address with another one located far away from where you connect from. Every request you send is masked with another IP, and the data that comes back to you is fully encrypted, making it harder to track.

2. Proxies

Proxies are another, perhaps an even more effective method of hiding your IP address than a VPN. The difference between proxies and VPNs is that proxies also change your original IP, but instead of using a random one, you are assigned with an IP that originates from the same country as the content you want to access. That’s why many people use it to work around geographical restrictions.

3. Tor Browser

Tor is a particular type of browser that comes with a built-in IP switcher. Your device will first connect to another device far away from your location and finally connect to the internet. The so-called onion technology provides users with multiple IP address layers, making it harder to find the original connection.


Staying safe when you go online should be one of your biggest concerns when you use the internet. Since your IP address can give your location to everyone you come in contact with, using a proxy or another type of protection is necessary. That way, you will at least know that you’re safe from prying eyes and potential cybersecurity threats.

About Author

Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis is an expert web content writer and freelancer who is an expert in writing engaging articles in Business, General, Social Media, Tech, and Marketing and many more other categories. He has been serving our website for a few years. Andrew is a family man. When he isn’t writing, he loves to cook for his kids and spend time with them.

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