What is my IP?

Your IP is:

What is my IP address? And what is that exactly?

Knowing what’s behind the IP is important. Because without an IP address you would be completely lost as an Internet user. IP stands for Internet Protocol and is a so-called network standard that specifies the form in which information is exchanged on the Internet.

The IP is similar to a postal address or telephone number in analogue life. Every device within a data network – both on the Internet and in a small home network – needs an IP address. Each IP can only be assigned once and is not local.

It ensures that data sent in the network also arrive where they should go. An example: If a website is called from a computer, the browser will always forward its own IP as well, so that the controlled web server knows not only which website it should be, but also where the requested data packet is “returned”. must become.

What does an IP address look like?

The IP consists of a whole string of numbers. Currently valid standards are IPv4 and IPv6. For IPv4, an address consists of four numbers, each in the range 0-255, separated by periods. This looks like this: 126.0.0.4. For IPv6, the newer standard, the IP consists of eight blocks of characters, which can include letters as well as numbers. Or to put it in technical terms: While IPv4 is set to 32-bit addresses, IPv6 is 128-bit addresses.

Whether four or eight character blocks: The number chains are difficult to remember. Especially since you not only have to remember your own address, but also your favorite websites, shops, etc. Since this is hardly possible, the domain names or the domain name system were introduced.

That means: For example, to call embedgooglemap.net, you do not have to enter a long code, just embedgooglemap.net. Your computer then looks in a central “phone book”, the Domain Name System (DNS), which IP address belongs to this domain name and establishes the connection with the respective web server.

Does every user have a fixed IP address?

The IP address is given by your Internet provider. In contrast to the telephone number it can change – it is assigned dynamically from the address block of the respective provider. Only a few years ago, each time the computer was switched off and on again, a new IP was assigned. Thanks to the flatrates and the continuous use of the network, it is now often days and weeks at an IP address. Anyone wishing to deliberately change their IP address should therefore switch off the DSL router for a short time or interrupt the Internet connection on mobile devices

Incidentally, every single device in your home network has its own IP address. The gets assigned internally by the router, which is the private network and the provider is interposed. That is, the router pulls its external IP address from the provider and then assigns internal IP address to the connected devices.

Fixed IP addresses are the exception and are more likely to be found in companies that operate their own web, mail and FTP servers. In the future, however, that could change: With IPv6 comes to us such a large number of possible addresses that theoretically each user could be assigned a fixed IP identity.

Why do we need IPv6?

IPv6 is, so to speak, the future of the Internet Protocol, which has already begun. With IPv4 currently about 4 billion addresses are available. Given the number of worldwide users and the even higher number of devices is clear: This amount of addresses is not enough (anymore). With IPv6, the address space increases many times in dimensions that are difficult to survey and ensures that even in many years there will still be enough addresses available for all users and devices.

The conversion from IPv4 to IPv6 is foreseeable.

What does the IP address reveal about the user?

For privacy reasons, it makes sense that IP addresses change. Because the number code provides people or companies that are interested in a whole range of revealing information. Among other things, the IP address can be used to determine which provider you have and in which region you are currently located.

In detail, this looks like this: IP addresses are, assigned block by block to providers. The IP addresses of customers of a particular provider thus all begin with the same number combinations. Next element is the location: The IP address indicates the nearest dial-up node, which may be located directly in the neighborhood or even a few miles depending on where you live. Also the browser, the operating system and the network speed can be read out.

The Internet Provider knows basically what customers have searched and on what websites they were. However, these data must be deleted after the end of each session – so it is worthwhile to disconnect your internet connection regularly.

The fact that the user can be determined directly from the IP address is unlikely due to the principle of dynamic allocation. If you want to be absolutely sure and do not involuntarily provide data to anyone about you, you should keep these tips in mind:

  • Interrupt the Internet connection regularly so that the IP address is reassigned;
  • Since every e-mail contains the IP address: Do not send mails to dubious addresses (this is the case, for example, with some websites that attract attractive downloads, but which you can only activate by sending a mail) ;
  • Just think about which services you log in with username and password – the IP address can then be assigned to a visitor;
  • Use anonymization software such as the Tor plugin for the Firefox browser : These free programs help you to hide your geolocation and your surfing habits.