IP Address Lookup
Western civilization is a few generations into the whole "huge technology advancements". In today’s world, our lives are integrated almost seamlessly with technology. Work-from-home jobs, professional electric documentation, and just about everyone’s social lives are tied to the internet. Your IP address is how those elements interact.
IP stands for "internet protocol": the unique identifying number related to devices, networks, web pages, and everything else. Understanding IPs is vital because they are crucial to interacting with the internet. They act as beacons for sending information out of and into your devices. Interactions cannot occur unless an IP address sends and receives data information.
There are two different "types" of IP addresses. These types are public and private IP addresses. Public IP and private IP are both fundamental in creating a device’s ability to interact with the internet and other devices.
The difference between a private IP vs public IP is that of connectivity. They cannot connect, so private vs public IP addresses are often used only by a specific technology, like routers. Each type of address is vital to interactivity and convenience but in surprising ways.
A private IP address is usually the IP of a physical device or a particular device on a small network. Private IP addresses are part of very small networks that don’t necessarily require the internet to share data or interact.
Using something like a computer will have a private IP that connects to a home network. To interact online, this private IP is "masked" by a router’s public IP.
Public IP addresses are the only addresses that interact over the internet. They are typically assigned to your router by an internet service provider (ISP) like Verizon, Charter, or Comcast.
A router will mask a private IP address to protect the end user’s information. Although users can still use a public IP address to take them online, the data that hackers can access is limited compared to a private IP. Your public IP is the address seen online.
No internet user necessarily needs to know their public IP address. Most professionals would be hard-pressed to memorize even their private IPs. Additionally, using particular security software may result in having an IP that changes daily, if not whenever the device undergoes a restart. It is difficult, if not useless, to attempt to memorize a device’s IP when secure IP changes are involved.
That said, hackers are notorious for "stealing IP information" and utilizing it. They can use a public IP to source the general area of a physical device. Hackers can also worm their way into a private network and steal the resources from a private connection. The good news is that hackers are typically not interested in the personal information of an end user; they are interested in bandwidth and maneuverability.
If a user wants to know their public IP address, there are a few ways to learn it. By far, the most straightforward and fast option is to Google it.
Search the phrase "what is my public IP", and the first few results will have relevant information. Some websites, like whatismyipaddress.com, are reliable sources for this data; they will show any public IP addresses related to your device. They also give a general location; if using a VPN, this location will be different than your actual location.
There are two "types" of IP addresses. The types are called IPv4 and IPv6, each referencing the version with which they are associated. IPv4 addresses are the older of the two and contain four octets of data, for example, 172.25.200.213. These numbers cannot go above 255.
On the other hand, the newer IPv6 IP addresses contain eight fields of hexadecimal numbers; these numbers allow for numerals, letters, and special characters in an IP address. An example of this address could be: 2001:0000:9d38:6ab8:1c39:3a1b:a93a:b1c4.
Note: IPv6 IP addresses can use "shortening techniques" to limit repetitive numbers. In the example above, the four 0s in the second field would be shortened to one 0. It would look like this: 2001:0:9d38:6ab8:1c39:3a1b:a93a:b1c4.
So, in other words, IPv6 addresses are nearly limitless—while IPv4 IPs are hugely limited in comparison. The world is making steps towards full IPv6 integration, but that takes time. As the world transitions, both IPs are essential—because many devices have both. IPv4 IPs come in two flavors, public and private.
The numbers within the IP consist of ranges, representing elements of the IP; for example, if it is public or private and what Class it is. Additionally, if it is still unclear, IPv4 IPs, although limited, are still able to provide both public and private addresses. They can do this with the help of your router. Your router keeps your private IP private and masks it with a public one.
IP address ranges are called Classes. They are essential because the octet of numbers representing a device’s elements also refers to network information.
Generally, there are three Classes attached to a public IP address range. The ranges are:
At the same time, a private IP address range will consist mainly of:
Class A IPs are the most prominent IP addresses in the world; they are typically also Internet Service Providers (ISP).
Class B IPs are wide-ranging but lack the resources of A.
Class C IPs are minor; they are limited by geography. They are also the best for special IPs interacting with network commands.
There are also Class D and E IPs, which are not available to the public.