All Types of IP Address in Networking (IPv4 vs IPv6, Website IP Address, Characteristics)
In the last modules, we discussed in detail what is computer networking and then what is IP address. These are the basics of networking that you must know.
Now, in this write-up (part of our detailed Ethical Hacking Tutorial for beginners), we are going to discuss exactly how many types of IP address are there in networking. In addition, we will also talk about:
Different types of IP addresses in computer networks
IPv4 and IPv6 differences
Types of website IP addresses
IP Address types according to characteristics
These points are crucial for you to learn to have a good idea of networking and IP address types. Let’s get started!
What is IP Address?
Computer systems connected to the internet network communicate with each through underground cables or even wirelessly. When you do anything on the internet, such as opening a website, downloading a file, etc., your computer needs an address that allows other systems to locate your device and provide what you requested. That address is called IP (Internet Protocol) address.
Simply put, an IP address is a string of numbers used to identify a computer system or nodes on the internet. You can also see it as equivalent to the address of your home. It is written in a certain format and is assigned to all the devices connected to the internet or network using Internet Protocol as a mode of communication.
An IP address is assigned by IANA (Internet Corporation For Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and ranges from 0 to 255 (0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255).
Every information transmitted over the network is in the form of chunks, also known as packets. They comprise the data sender wants to share and a header, including metadata associated with the packet.
Along with data and header, it also stores the IP addresses of the device that has shared the packet and the one receiving it. Using this information, routers and other network infrastructure delivers the packet to the correct device or address.
What Are Different Versions of IP Address?
IPv4 was the original IP address version, but it could not meet the ever-increasing demand for IP addresses. Hence, IPv6 was established to accommodate more addresses, including future demands too.
1. IPv4 Address Explained
Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the first-ever version of an Internet Protocol address with a 32-bit binary format. It contained 232 addresses, which seemed sufficient initially but considering the rapid increase in the number of virtual devices and networks, it witnessed a shortage of addresses.
It currently has 4,294,967,296 addresses. In this version, IP addresses ranged from 0 to 255, with four octets separated by a period (.). The host’s reference uses the numerical format, while the network device uses the binary format.
2. IPv6 Address Explained
Internet Protocol version 6 is the latest version with an address size of 128 bit. It accommodates 3.4 x 10^38 unique IP addresses, enough to support trillions of devices available now or in the coming years.
It contains four hexadecimal digital and eight sets, each block comprising 16 bits and separated by a colon (:).
IPv4 vs IPv6 Difference (Comparison)
Below is the tabular comparison between IPv4 vs IPv6 to have a better idea about the differences between the two. It is vital to know if you are learning about different IP address types in networking.
What Are Different Types of IP Address in Networking?
Hope you now know the difference between IPv4 and IPv6. Now, it is time for you to know about all IP address types in networking or computer networks. Here we go.
1. Private IP Addresses
All your devices, including laptops, smartphones, computers, and tablets, connected to the internet have an IP address. It also includes Bluetooth-connected devices, such as speakers, printers, smart TVs, etc.
The technological advancement in the Internet of Things (IoT) has increased the demand for private IP addresses. As the router needs to identify each of your devices separately, it generates a private IP address as a unique identifier to differentiate between them.
2. Public IP Addresses
A public IP address is encrypted by various devices or servers. It is also called an external IP address and is accessed over the internet. A public IP address is a primary address containing all other devices over the network and is used to communicate outside your network.
It is assigned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to your network router. Your personal device’s IP address remains hidden when you connect it to the internet through the router’s public IP address. All the servers with direct access to the internet, such as email servers and web servers, enter the public Internet Protocol address.
A public IP address is divided into two subcategories:
Dynamic IP Addresses
As the name suggests, a dynamic IP address is non-consistent and changes from time to time. These addresses are expensive and are provided by ISPs from their large collection of IP addresses. After a few weeks or months, older addresses are pushed back to the collection, and a new one is assigned to clients.
Also, they offer more security against hackers and cybercriminals. Dynamic IP addresses may demand effort, but with the right software and tool, you can navigate conveniently and without shelling out a penny.
Static IP Addresses
Static IP addresses are invalid and remain constant. When assigned to a system by the network device, this type of address doesn’t change. Due to their static nature, companies avoid using them as one can easily get information about the device. However, if a firm needs to assign a host to its network server, it may require a static IP address.
Different Types of Website IP Address
When discussing how many types of IP address are there, another significant thing to know is the website IP addresses.
1. Dedicated IP Address
Some web hosting plans allow you to buy dedicated IP addresses, which makes it easier to obtain an SSL certificate and run a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server. Also, it simplifies sharing files with multiple people in an organization and offers anonymous FTP sharing options.
Each website has a unique dedicated IP address that other domains do not use. You can access the website only by using the IP address instead of typing the domain name. A dedicated IP address improves security and speed even during high traffic.
Also, it comes in handy when you want to test a website before registering its domain. However, it can be costlier than a shared IP address.
2. Shared IP Address
Shared IP addresses are not unique but are shared between multiple domains. So, websites relying on shared hosting plans will be one of the many websites hosted on that same server.
Individuals and small business websites with manageable traffic volumes and limited pages commonly use these addresses. A shared IP address works for most users, as common configurations don’t need a dedicated IP address.
IP Address Types According to Characteristics
On the basis of characteristics, there are different types of IP addresses. Let’s know it below.
1. Broadcast Address
Broadcast refers to transmitting a video or audio over a network. Hence, a broadcast IP address shares the same packet with all the users or devices on the local network.
It is called a one-to-all kind of communication, as a single host sends the message to other hosts on LAN. The users can open the data packet, interpret it, and follow the instructions or discard it. The common broadcast IP address is 255.255.255.255.
2. Unicast Address
Unicast is the most common type of IP address, as we all work with it in our daily lives. It is unique across the LAN. A unicast IP address establishes one-to-one communication where data is transmitted from one point in the network to another.
So, the packet shared with a unicast IP address can be processed by only one host on the network. It can be used for sending and receiving data and is available in IPv4 and IPv6.
3. Multicast IP Address
A multicast IP address establishes one-to-many communication, where a packet is shared with a group of remote devices on the LAN. It is mentioned in the destination address of the message. A machine must subscribe to the multicast IP address if it wants to receive a multicast message.
4. Anycast Address
With anycast IP addresses, the message is not shared with all other users on the network. The data packet is assigned to an anycast IP address, and it is delivered to the nearest interface that has the address.
FAQs Related to IP Address Types in Networking
Here is a list of frequently asked questions or FAQs related to different types of IP address in computer networks:
1. How to find out my IP address?
There are many ways to find your IP address, and you can look for them online. Windows users can find their IP address by following the given instructions:
Start > Settings > Network and Internet > Select the WiFi network you are connected to.
Go to properties and find your IP address mentioned next to the IPv4 address.
2. What is the use of an IP address?
IP addresses are not only important when you connect your device to the internet but also help in various functions.
Identify the host: An IP address works as a unique identifier for network devices connected to the internet. It helps to identify a computer system and allows it to access data on the internet.
Location of the host: An IP address also provides the location of the system on the network. This is useful during any hacking incident or spamming as it allows tracking the perpetrator using the system's Internet Protocol address that is used to execute the malicious task.
3. What are common security threats associated with IP addresses?
Cyberattackers or cybercriminals have found several techniques to hack a system using IP addresses. They carry out their malicious activities and penetrate through devices by targeting IP addresses.
Some common threats related to an IP address are:
Social engineering to track users via various messaging apps like Skype. At times, they prompt users to reveal their IP addresses.
Online stalking is another serious threat to finding an IP address through various activities like playing video games, commenting on websites and forums, etc. Hackers use it for injecting malware, phishing attacks, and impersonation.
Your system is also at risk in the following cases:
If you download any illegal content
Cyberattackers track your location using geolocation technology
Forced connection through ports with the intention of stealing data and taking over a device
Target a network directly for DDoS attacks.
4. How to protect an IP address?
By hiding an IP address, you can protect your online identity, devices, and data. There are two methods to do so:
Use a proxy server as it provides an intermediary web server to route the traffic. It hides your IP address and shows proxy servers instead.
Use a VPN, which is a safer option. Here, your device is shown on the same network as the VPN. So, you can access the network from another country or browse blocked sites in that area.
5. What is the Loopback address?
A system uses a loopback IP address to send a message to itself. Packets shared to the Loopback IP address are looped through the network rather than reaching a destination. It is used to check that the TCP/IP stack is correctly installed on the system.