The internet has exploded since the 80s and the 4.3 billion available IP addresses at that time were deemed insufficient. As a result, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) started developing IPv6 around 1990 to accommodate the growing number of users on the Internet. But why was it crucial to plan that far ahead? An IP address is a unique address that identifies a device on the internet. As such, it has immense significance – enough to make people worry and prompt the development of reserve IP addresses. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) manages the IP address sphere and ensures that a shortage of IP addresses doesn’t take place. The Internet would stop growing without sufficient IP addresses. New devices won’t be able to connect to the internet. This article will explore topics like what is a public IP address? What does it signify, so on and so forth?
Everyone has almost once in their lives heard the term IP address. We hear this term anywhere as long as we are talking about the Internet. We know that it is a vital facet of the technology revolving around the web and something worth noticing. Yet, many of us don’t exactly know what it is that an IP address does. An IP address is a unique code that helps identify a device on the internet; as such, an IP address is essentially public that is provided to you (device) by your ISP and used to access the internet. A public IP address is versatile, and the web, too, can route it. It allows you to organize your server, remote access your PC, etc. However, before we delve into the topic of a public IP address, it is pertinent that we understand what an IP address is and how it works.
IP address: What it is and how it works
A device that connects to the internet or LAN has a unique code that identifies it on the said network; this code is what we call an IP address. The IP stands for Internet Protocol, and the address is the code that identifies a device when it connects to a network. The protocol dictates the data sent via the Internet or any network, for that matter, by maintaining a unique format. Essentially, an IP address works like an identifier that allows data to flow between devices on a network. They contain location information but also make devices available for communication. Due to the internet being ambiguous, it needed a way to differentiate between the various devices connected to it to facilitate order and functionality. An IP address does that and thus builds an inherent architecture of a functioning Internet.
An IP address is practically a string of numbers, separated by periods. It ranges from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. Any combination expressed as a format of four numbers with the highest number being 255 can be an IP address. IP addresses aren’t random. They are mathematically produced and allocated by the IANA. The IANA distributes them to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIR). RIR is then responsible to further allocate them to local Internet registries (IIR) such as an ISP. Your ISP allocates your (device) IP address.
The process behind the scenes
Internet protocol works the same way as any other language: it has its own set of rules. Any device that wants to find, send, or exchange data over a network has to follow these rules or use this protocol. In other words, without an IP address, you can’t connect to the internet as you will lack a crucial protocol. The use of IP addresses happens behind the scenes. The process works like this:
- Your device connects to a network connected to the Internet.
- At home, this network will be the ISP you chose. At work, you’ll use the network provided by your employer’s ISP.
- In both case,s ISP assigns the IP address.
- Your online traffic goes through your ISP, which they route back to you using your IP address.
While an IP address can be static, it may also change whenever you use another network or start using (or restart an existing) device like a modem or router to access the internet. More details are below.
Types of IP address
Under different categories, we have different types of IP addresses.
Consumer IP address
Anyone with internet service, be it commercial or private, will have two types of IP address; private and a public IP. The term private and public refers to the location of the network the user is on at a given time. A private IP is what we use inside a network, while a public one is outside.
Private IP is a unique code that identifies a device connected to a private i.e., network e.g., within a LAN (Local Area Network). It remains hidden and inaccessible when you’re connected to the Internet.
Public IP represents the address associated with your network that is both visible and accessible over the Internet.
Dynamic IP address
Part of the public IP address changes automatically and regularly. ISPs buy a large pool of IP addresses and assign them automatically to their customers. They periodically reassign addresses.
Static IP address
In contrast to dynamic IP, static IP remains the same. Once a network is assigned an IP address, it remains constant. Businesses that plan to host their servers require a static IP address.
Public IP address, everything you need to know
Any IP address that we can access over the internet is a public IP address. It is a unique, globally routable address that is accessible from anywhere on the web. We, of course, don’t choose our IP address, as the network we use to connect to the internet is provided to us by our ISP. Hence, a public IP address is assigned to our network by an ISP.
It is an outward-facing IP, which others on the internet can use to communicate with your network and vice versa. A public IP address works as an identifier on the internet, without which you can’t go online. Typically, your ISP acts as an intermediary between your devices and the internet. Public IP addresses are also known as external IP addresses because they are applicable outside a local network. The internet is, in general, an intricate web of interwoven public IP addresses.
Note: The URL of a website is nothing more than a human-readable name associated with the numeric formatted public IP address (static IP).
Workings of a public IP address
A public IP address is a number in the format “aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd“. Devices over the internet use this address to communicate (read/exchange information) amongst themselves. So, a public IP address is a unique number assigned to devices that we can route across the internet. When you enter a URL in a browser, the name gets converted into an IP address by a DNS server, which then locates the server (device) hosting the website associated with that URL. These public IP addresses are static. Generally, an ISP provides a public IP address to networks instead of individual devices. The devices within this network have their Private IP that communicates with the network, which in lieu contacts the internet.
- A Public IP address can help people reach a web server from anywhere on the net.
- It can make remote access to a computer easy and smooth.
- Capability to host your mail server.
- It is fundamental in obtaining a unique SSL certificate for a website.
- It can provide FTP access to a select few users.
- Large organizations use their public IP for Internet access.
Range of public IP address
There are over 4 billion potential public IP addresses in the IPV4 standard. Some are reserved as private IP addresses:
- Class A: 10.0.0.0 — 10.255.255.255
- Class B: 172.16.0.0 — 172.31.255.255
- then Class C: 192.168.0.0 — 192.168.255.255
Any address combination outside the aforementioned series is a public IP. The public IP range is:
- 220.127.116.11 – 18.104.22.168
- 22.214.171.124 – 126.96.36.199
- 188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206
- 220.127.116.11 – 18.104.22.168
- 22.214.171.124 – 126.96.36.199
- 188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206
- 220.127.116.11 – 18.104.22.168
- 22.214.171.124 – 126.96.36.199
- 188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206
Difference between a public and a private IP address
|Basis||Public IP Address||Private IP Address|
|Reach||Global (external) reach||Local (internal) reach|
|Communication with||communicate outside a private network, over the internet||communicate with other devices inside a private network|
|Code||unique numeric code||non-unique numeric code that may be used by other devices in other private networks|
|How to find/locate||Can google “Find my IP address”||Only inside your device internal’s settings|
|Assigned by||ISP||A private network|
|Range||Any number combination not included in the private IP range||10.0.0.0 — 10.255.255.255;|
172.16.0.0 — 172.31.255.255;
192.168.0.0 — 192.168.255.255
Are public IP addresses traceable?
Yes. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that public IP addresses are traceable to your ISP. From advertisers and government to cybercriminals, everyone has potential knowledge of your general geographical location. It makes it easier for them to stalk you online. Websites also use IP tracking and tracing to analyze online behavior patterns. It makes it easier for them to predict your online habits and preferences.
Why should you hide your IP?
If you can, hiding your IP address ensures that no one stalks you. It can prevent your ISP from monitoring your online activity and thus selling that data to advertisers or handing it over to the government. You can also unblock several types of content on the Internet if you hide your actual IP. Some content on the Internet is locked for some locations, whereas some are subject to censorship. These restrictions work due to limiting a set of IP addresses from accessing it. If you hide your IP, you can safely browse these types of content.
Use a VPN to hide your public IP address
Nowadays, people have become aware regarding online browsing risks. As such, they are proactively trying to safeguard their online habits to ensure privacy and security. That is why there are a few ways to hide a public IP address, from asking your ISP for a manual change in your IP address to using a proxy server. However, the favorite and increasingly common solution is to use a VPN. A VPN is a service that allows you to access the internet via a remote server. It can effectively spoof your actual IP address. For more information on VPN, you can browse our articles. We can also recommend VPNs for hiding your IP address.