What is an IP Address?
An IP Address, which stands for Internet Protocol Address, is a unique identifying number assigned to every single machine that uses the Internet. Computers, printers, and other devices that contain a network adapter have IP Addresses. It is expressed in dotted decimal number format to make it easier for human beings to take note and remember.
A typical IP Address looks like this: 188.8.131.52
Purpose of an IP Address
An IP Address is classified as an address primarily because it serves the same purpose as a home address or an office address- it allows each machine present on the Internet to be located. Websites are able to track visitors' locations and determine the pages that they are interested in through their IP Address. It can also be used to identify a specific user if there is a request for log records through the user's Internet Service Provider or ISP. Unlawful behavior on the Internet can call for investigation, and law enforcement has the discretion to subpoena the ISP so that the name and contact details of the owner of a certain IP Address can be obtained.
Classes of IP Address
There are 5 classes of IP Address, excluding special addresses. These are:
- Class A- This class is used for very large networks. IP Addresses with a first octet ranging from 1 to 126 belong to this group.
- Class B- This class is used for medium-sized networks. IP Addresses that have 128 to 191 in the first octet belong to this group.
- Class C- This class is used for the small to medium-sized networks. IP Addresses that have 192 to 223 in the first octet belong to this group.
- Class D- This class is used for multicasts, with a first to third bit value of 1, and a fourth bit value of 0.
- Class E- This class is used only for experimental purposes. It is quite similar to class D, with the first to third bit value of 1. The only difference is that its fourth bit value is also 1.
- Special classes include Broadcast, Default, and Loopback IP Addresses.
There are many online users who have opted to hide their IP Address for security reasons. Hackers and websites often use IP addresses to monitor a user and the user's location. What a lot of people do not know is that if an IP Address is exposed, it could allow for just about anyone to track any user directly to their home. This can be risky to say the least especially when hackers and fraudulent users are able to access such information.