When you browse the internet, you might have come across the term “IP address” several times. But what exactly is an IP address, and why is it so important? In simple terms, an IP address is a unique identifier assigned to every device connected to the internet. It enables your device to communicate with other devices on the internet by providing a specific address that identifies its location.
Without IP addresses, it would be impossible for devices to connect and communicate with each other. In this article, we will explore what IP addresses are, how they work, and why they are so crucial in the digital world.
What is an IP address?
An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to the internet. This label identifies the device’s location and allows it to communicate with other devices on the internet. It is a unique identifier that helps to ensure that information is transmitted to the correct device.
The development of the internet and the need for a standardized way of identifying devices on a network led to the creation of IP addresses. The first version of IP address, IPv4, was developed in the 1980s and provided over 4 billion unique addresses.
However, with the exponential growth of the internet, IPv4 addresses started to run out, and a new version, IPv6, was introduced in the 1990s. IPv6 provides over 340 undecillion unique addresses, ensuring that the internet will never run out of IP addresses.
Public IP address
means the IP address can be visited from any computer in the world. A public IP address is an address assigned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to a device that is directly connected to the internet. It is a unique address that allows devices to communicate with other devices on the internet.
Private IP Addresses
A private IP address is an address assigned to a device on a private network. Private IP addresses are not unique and are used for devices within the same network.
There are two types of private IP addresses: static and dynamic.
Static IP Addresses
A static IP address is an address that remains the same and is assigned to a device permanently. It is usually used for servers, printers, or devices that need a consistent address for remote access.
Dynamic IP Addresses
A dynamic IP address is an address that is assigned to a device temporarily. It changes each time the device connects to the network. It is usually used for devices that do not require a consistent address, such as laptops or smartphones.
IP address classes :
All the IP classes, their address range, and subnets were displayed in the below figure:
How do IP addresses work?
Every device connected to the internet has a unique IP address assigned to it. This address is made up of a series of numbers separated by dots. For example, a typical IP address looks like this: 192.168.0.1.
IP addresses work by establishing a connection between two devices on the internet. When a device wants to communicate with another device, it sends a packet of data that contains its IP address and the IP address of the device it wants to communicate with.
The data packet is then sent to a router, which reads the destination IP address and forwards the packet to the correct device. The receiving device then reads the packet’s contents and responds by sending another packet of data back to the original device.
IPv4 vs IPv6
- If you want to know to wish to know your IP address visit: https://whatismyipaddress.com/ here your IPv4 and IPv6 along with your ISP is displayed and you can get the location also.
What are Subnet Masks?
Subnet masks are used to divide IP networks into smaller subnetworks, allowing for more efficient use of IP addresses. An IP address is a unique identifier that is assigned to every device on a network. IP addresses are made up of two parts: the network address and the host address. The subnet mask is used to determine which part of the IP address is the network address and which part is the host address.
How do Subnet Masks Work?
Subnet masks are a set of numbers that are used to determine which bits of an IP address represent the network address and which bits represent the host address. A subnet mask is typically expressed in dotted decimal notation, which means it is written as four numbers separated by periods. Each of these numbers is between 0 and 255 and represents eight bits of the subnet mask.
For example, a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 means that the first three octets of an IP address represent the network address, and the last octet represents the host address. This means that there can be up to 256 hosts on the network.
Why are Subnet Masks Important?
Subnet masks are essential for efficient use of IP addresses. Without subnetting, IP addresses would be wasted on small networks, which would result in a shortage of available IP addresses. Subnetting allows for more efficient use of IP addresses by dividing them into smaller subnetworks.
In addition, subnet masks are used for routing packets between networks. Routers use the subnet mask to determine whether a packet should be sent to another network or kept within the current network.
Subnet Masks Explained: What You Need to Know
Now that we’ve covered the basics of subnet masks, let’s dive deeper into some of the more technical aspects. In this section, we’ll cover subnet mask notation, CIDR notation, and how to calculate subnet masks.
Subnet Mask Notation
As mentioned earlier, subnet masks are typically expressed in dotted decimal notation. However, there are two other common notations that are used for subnet masks: binary notation and prefix notation.
Binary notation represents the subnet mask as a series of 1s and 0s. For example, the subnet mask 255.255.255.0 in binary notation is 11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000.
Prefix notation, also known as CIDR notation, represents the subnet mask as a number between 0 and 32. The number represents the number of bits in the subnet mask. For example, a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 in CIDR notation is /24.
CIDR notation is a shorthand way of representing subnet masks. CIDR notation is used to specify the number of bits that are used for the network address in a subnet mask. The number after the slash (/) indicates the number of bits used for the network address.
Importance of IP Addresses in Cybersecurity
Cybercriminals can use your IP address to launch attacks on your device or network. They can use your IP address to identify your location and gain access to your personal information. Therefore, it is crucial to keep your IP address private and secure.
One way to secure your IP address is by using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your internet connection and hides your IP address, making it difficult for cybercriminals to track your online activities. It is also essential to keep your antivirus software and firewalls up-to-date to prevent cyber attacks.
Another way to protect your IP address is by avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, as they are not secure and can be easily accessed by hackers. Instead, use a secure network or your mobile data plan to access the internet.