Probably you’ve heard about a case whereby an individual has been receiving some harassing messages from an unfamiliar online assailant. No information would direct to the identity of that person, but still, the authorities managed to track them down using something known as an IP address.
Just like major pirating, such activities can be easily tracked back to an individual via their IP address.
But what’s an IP address?
What’s an IP Address?
Ideally, the internet and networks do not identify computers by a given name that you allocate. Instead, they prefer numbers that are the identifiers.
Therefore, an IP (Internet Protocol) address is merely a special identifier for your device. Not only that computers are the only ones with IP addresses, but so do smartphones and tablets.
Interestingly, just like fingerprints, there are no two IP addresses that can exactly be the same.
The “IP” is part of the Internet Protocol/Transmission Control Protocol (IP/TPC), which is the language that’s used to communicate by most networks.
Two primary types of IP addresses are known in today’s use: IP version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6).
The IPv4 is the 32-bit number that is expressed in 4 octets and separated in the so-called “dotted decimal” notation, such as 192.0.2.53. On the other hand, the IPv6 are 128-bit numbers that are expressed in hexadecimal strings, such as 2001:0db8:582:ae33::29.
So, is there a comparison between your IP address and your home address?
Now, it’s arguably one of those misleading analogies that are flat-out inaccurate. The reason being, your home address is ideally particular as well as static location, while your IP address is more of a rough estimate of the location.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (AINA) is the one behind setting the addresses. For instance, when it set up the IPv6 and IPv4 protocols, the designers also set up a system that uniquely identifies the electronic destination on the internet, but not the exact physical one.
The AINA then created blocks of the IP addresses and assigned them to various regions across the globe on a numeric basis and not a geographical one. For example, IP addresses in Australia and India are under one registry despite being on separate geographical locations. However, beyond the regional level, the internet service providers (ISPs) assign the IP addresses to users.
External vs. Internal IP Address
Usually, the external IP address is the one that most folks would think about when considering the string of numbers that’s associated with their internet use. Moreover, it’s the IP address that the ISP assigns to you; it’s all public. In another way, it’s your router interface’s digital address.
Then your router now provides your computer with internet access. Now, at this point, when visiting a website on your computer or phone, each of the devices has its internal IP address that’s also known as a private IP address – it’s logged along with your browsing history.
A relationship more similar to a phone extension – a company assigns a specific number to you that routes call to you only. Now, this is an example of an internal IP address. However, that default company number that’s publicly listed is now your external IP address. Here, your router acts more like a receptionist.
Now that you know what an IP address is, how can you find your IP address?
How to Find Your Public/Internet IP Address
One thing is for sure; the numbers are literally easy to find, but only when you know how and where to look.
So, you want to know your router’s IP address as given by your Internet Service Provider? But why would you even want to know that?
Apparently, such information might be helpful, especially for things such as VoIP calls or even for remote control software.
Before diving into that, you need to be aware that your IP address may contain information that you’re not even aware of, such as your ISP’s name as well as your general location (known as a GeoIP).
The easiest way that you can do it now is by conducting a simple search “what’s my IP” on the search engine.
Like most sites, Google will show you exactly that as your router has already made a request once you visited the site and hence revealed your IP address.
However, there are some sites that can go further to show some other information such as your city, the name of your ISP, and even provide maps.
How to Find Your Internet IP Address
Arguably, it’s what you’ve been looking for!
Every device connecting to your internal network (whether it’s Wi-Fi or Ethernet) has an IP address. Your router will have an IP address say 192.168.0.1, called the “gateway.” When you’re looking for other devices’ IP addresses be sure to see it pop up severally.
That way, it means that the router is using DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol – a protocol that routers use to assign IP addresses) to assign the device’s addresses, whereby the last octet only changes.
It’s something similar across all internet networks, given that they are bound in the router that routes the communication in and out to respective places. There’s also another scenario in case one has a massive internal network. In that case, another number (subnet) helps to divide the network into groups.
Now the big question is how to find it.
In Windows, there must be a command prompt; just search “cmd” in Windows search, and then click for the command line; type “ipconfig” in the pop-up box, and then return.
Now you’ll have more than an IP address, as you’ll also have the IPv4 address, the subnet mask, and the Default Gateway (your router).
Above the middle row of data, you’ll see the connection type: for instance, “Wireless LAN adapter Wi-Fi.” With a wire connection, then the information will be shown under “Ethernet adapter.”
If you’re on Mac, you need to get to the System Preferences, then select Network, and you’ll have it. Only click on the connection type that should be on the left and see the IPs for every type (with older versions, you can click the TCP/IP tab at the top).
Another option you can decide to go full geek, whereby you open the Terminal and then type “ipconfig” like on Windows.
While on iOS/iPadOS, you get to Settings > Wi-Fi and then click the “i” in the circle that’s close to the network that you’re connected to. You’ll then find the IP address, the subnet as well as the outer under the IPv4 and IPv6 section;
In case you need your IP address for other devices, you can go to your router in the “attached devices” and you get the list of the devices that are attached (current and recent) to the network. The list includes all the IP addresses that are assigned to every device.
Modern routers that have an app can make things a walk in the park as you only open the app and click the icon that’s next to the device that you want the IP address, and you get it right there.