IP address

From ArticleWorld

The IP Address is a number allocated to each computer on a network. For every network in existance an unique IP must be allocated for each unit to identify it.

The importance of IP

The usage of IP adresses is very closely related with the world wide web in a such fashion that the existence of the later cannot be imagined without their use. They are the very bulding blocks of the internet. They are used in every internet connection to correctly identify the user and the webserver. They are an inherent part of the TCP/IP protocol, the most used protocol to date.


The current version in use all over the globe is IP version 4. This is a 32 bits address which in theory results in over 4 billion combinations possible. Of course only of fraction of them are used due to their usage on routers. For example a local network connects to the internet with a single IP address. This doesn’t mean though that unused IP addresses can be easily found. In practice they are allocated in blocks (or ranges) which makes a lot of them unusable, in the future this will mean the introduction of the IP version 6 a 128 bits type of address, this type of protocol will lead to more user information being coded into the address itself. To address this problem of addresses exhaustion, the nowadays internet structure relies heavily on subnetworking and NAT (Network address translation), but these can only be a short term solution. The IP addresses come into two types: the statical type which remains unchanged over time and the dynamic type which changes for every new connection. The use of a server based DHCP (Dynamic host configuartion protocol) service is required to use the second. The very nature of IP addresses makes them to be very easily used by enforcement authorities or by hackers to track different individuals. The usage of a variable IP address or the usage of anonymous proxies can make this task considerably more difficult. Privacy on the internet is not that difficult to achieve. Usually the IP address consists of four 8 bits numbers separated by dots. For example is a valid IP address. The IP version 6 address consists of 8 blocks of four digits each written in hexadecimal form.