Your Internet Protocol (IP) address is the unique identifying number of the device you’re connected to the Internet on. This address system helps with traffic routing on the Internet so that the right devices are connected to the websites that are requested.
In some cases, IP address are shared among a few devices. For example, if you use a router at home, all the devices connected to that router will share one address via a Network Address Transformation (NAT) table.
Your IP Address is: 126.96.36.199
Private versus Public IP
Following the example above, your devices when connected to the router are each identified using a private IP. This helps your router keep track of the requests of each device. When the router is communicating with the World Wide Web (WWW) then it is assigned a public IP by your Internet Service Provider.
Your IP Address Can Reveal A Lot
The first thing you must realise is that because IP addresses are so well organized, these simple digits can give away a lot of information. For example, your IP address can reveal an estimate of your physical location and the ISP you’re connecting with.
The bigger problem is that for those who can find your IP address, they can do many things depending on what they want to.
- Your ISP can block your access to certain content
- Websites can track your browsing history
- Cybercriminals can collect and sell IP addresses (along with other data)
- Anyone can launch an attack on your network
The best way to avoid these incidences is by using a VPN service. VPNs not only allow you to mask your address by connecting you with a secure server, but they also encrypt all your data so that it remains safe.
To learn more, read our VPN Guide here
More Information on IP Addresses
1. There is IPv4 and IPv6
Although there are two version they both have the same main purpose; identification and location addressing. IPv6 was created in anticipation of the world running out of IPv4 addresses. If we used only IPv4 it would support only 4 billion addresses.
2. Your IP address can reveal your;
- ZIP/Postal code
When you visit a website it will gather as much information about you as it can. Most do this through various means like cookies, meta information, and trackers. This way the site owners can interpret the data to understand your habits and other things.
Since they know where you're from, what you've seen – in fact, almost everything you've done, they can target products directly suitable for you. Unfortunately, cybercriminals can also use this information, or even sell it.
In many countries like Australia and the US, ISP are even required by government agencies to keep track of everything you do online – and hand over that information to them when they say so. That's why you should use a VPN anytime you're connected to the Internet.
3. Reading an IP Address
The four sections of an IPv4 address represent two things, your network identification and host identification. Network ID shows what network you are connected to, while the host ID is an identification of which device that connection is on the network.
4. How IP Works with DNS Servers
Besides your IP another item you'll see in your network configuration is the Domain Name System (DNS) server's IP address. DNS servers help us to translate human-readable addresses into IP addresses.
For example, if you type in www.hidemytraffic.com into your browser, it is the DNS server's job to locate the actual IP of that website. Diffeent DNS servers are run by different operators and some may be better than others.
That is one reason you might have heard that it's better to change your DNS server. By default, most ISPs will provide you with one of their own. You may see better performance if you switch that DNS server information to use Google or Cloudflare.
6. Connecting to Google or Cloudflare DNS Server
- For Google, change your DNS to 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206
- For CLoudflare, use 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168
Using either of these DNS address pairs may also help you bypass some website blocks by your ISP.
Conclusion: It's Better to Mask Your IP
As you can probably tell by now, the IP address is a powerful tool for navigation and is an integral part of the Internet. Everyone uses them, but many people also try to exploit them (or rather, you) for information.
Using a proxy server may help you mask your IP but that isn't sufficient ( Read about the difference between a VPN and Proxy Server ). To really stay safe on the Internet it is always better to use a reputable VPN service provider. A decent VPN can cost you as little as $2 or $3 per month, sometimes even less. Don't forget to check out our Best VPN Deals.