What is My IP? The Basics of IP Addresses and Your Privacy

What is My IP? The Basics of IP Addresses and Your Privacy

Privacy-conscious individuals understand that hiding your IP is one of the most important aspects of protecting yourself online. Over 12 million IP addresses are used as part of DDoS attacks, making their exposure incredibly dangerous.

Below, we will go through essential reasons you need to protect your public address and how you can do it.

What is an IP Address?

An IP (Internet Protocol) Address is a combination of numbers that identifies your device, among others. It is similar to your physical address, which mail carriers need to know to send packaging.

This address works across global and private networks, ensuring that third-party servers and clients identify you. A unique IP address is part of any device, including a smart toaster or network printer. 

How These Addresses Work

An IP is assigned randomly based on TCP/IP protocol. It is most familiar as a 32-bit number with four periods between each set. Here’s is an example:

  • 192.168.0.1

IPs come in multiple versions depending on their source. The most common options are IPV4 and V6:

  • IPV4 is your standard format separated by three sets of numbers. Because it is older, IPv4 is entirely out of addresses.
  • IPV6 is the current Internet Protocol version that provides a larger address space at 128 bits. The extra length gives IPV6 many more variants with the same identification power.

IPV4 has simple dot-decimal notation, while IPV6 uses colon-separated notation. Its hexadecimal properties provide for much more variance in addresses.

What Your IP Address Can Reveal About You

screenshot from whatismyipaddress.com reflecting exposed data

Your public address can reveal many different unwanted details about you:

  • Your city
  • Zipcode (area code)
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  • Your online activity
  • Aspects of your identity

While a public address won’t reveal credit card details or your physical address, it does show a lot about your location. Finding out you live in a specific North American city and following your spending habits can be enough for fraudsters to steal your identity.

All of this comes from your public address.

Public vs. Private Addresses

Comparison between public and private IP addresses

When checking your IP address, you might notice you receive both addresses. The dual-use comes from the distinction of how private and gigantic networks (like your ISP) identify you. An external computer network is public while your home network is private.

Your private address is suited to your local network. Typically, these private IPs are limited to IPV4, as you likely don’t have enough home devices to take all V4 addresses.

Your public address (IPV6) is generated amongst other people on your shared server that contains the essential data. Even web domains take these public addresses.

What is the relationship between a public address and a web domain?

All websites have a public address to identify themselves on the network. The network, in this case, is the worldwide web.

A connection establishes when one public IP sends data packets to another IP. Think of it like you receive a package from UPS. UPS wouldn’t be very good at their job if they didn’t have your physical address.

The sending of data back and forth must be encrypted to remain secure, so stick with websites that use HTTPS. For your security, it’s best to consider dynamic addresses.

Static vs. Dynamic IPs

IP addresses are generated based on what’s available on the network. However, you can make your network settings stick with a single address, otherwise known as a static IP.

This address is different from a dynamic IP, which changes each time you access the global network. It also prevents conflicts with you and other people on the web you access.

These address types are typically limited to IPV4 addresses, as IPV6 addresses are constantly changing. Plus, you have no control over other IPs.

How Can I Find Out What My IP Address is?

You can find out your IPV6 address at the top of our homepage. You can also find out your current ISP and whether you have a virtual private network (VPN) activated. There are also third-party IPLookup tools.

For alternate methods of finding your IP, here are some steps:

Finding Your IP on Windows

Windows ipconfig

  1. Select Network & Internet under settings
  2. Select Wi-Fi or Ethernet (depending on whether you have a wired or wireless selection)
  3. Right-click on your connection and choose “properties.”

Alternatively, you can type “ipconfig” on your Windows command-line interface. Type “cmd” in your windows search bar, and you will find it.

Finding Your Address on Mac

Finding your IP address on mac devices
  1. Open the Apple menu
  2. Select System Preferences
  3. Double click on the network icon
  4. Select Ethernet or Wi-Fi (depending on your connection) and spot the IP in the middle

You can also type “ipconfig getifaddr en1 (or en0)” using the Mac terminal. For your public address, use “Curl ifconfig.me.”

Finding Your IP on Android and iOS Mobile Devices

Android devices require the following steps:

  1. Open settings
  2. Select “status”
  3. Scroll into you find network details that include the IP address

iPhones and iOS tablets require these steps:

  1. Select Wi-Fi
  2. Choose the blue “i.”
  3. Select DHCP

Finding Your Address on Linux

Typically, ipconfig -a (private) or curl ipconfig.me (public) are the go-to for Ubuntu, and Debian-based Linux builds. You can do this using Terminal.

Using GNOME, you can access this from your settings and select the cog next to your connection.

Image of how to find Ip addresses on linux

How to Change Your IP Address

If you want to change your public IP, reset your internet connection by turning it off and on again. If you have a static IP, you will need to enter a new IP manually.

The new IP will conflict with any existing address that matches it. So you might have to go through a few options to see what works.

You might also need to reset your router, as it has its IP address. Having a proxy server (which you can find built into most internet browsers) will also help you mask your IP.

Here’s an image within Firefox’s browser:

Conclusion – How To Protect Your IP

In the quest for internet privacy, it is up to you to be sure you have complete protection. To ensure you can adequately mask your IP from hackers, your government, and any internet provider, you need a VPN.

The Fast VPN has military-level encryption, ensuring you get a new IP address that protects your internet location.

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