What’s an IP Address?
The Internet Protocol (IP) enables data to be routed through the internet. Whether it be for email, social media platforms, etc… All programs use IP addresses to travel across the internet. But, How does it work? Here’s how.
Each message being sent to a recipient is divided into multiple pieces with a header on each to let the network know where the message is coming from, and where the message needs to go. Once the message is divided, these pieces, also known as packets, are then sent to their destination where the receiver reads the headers, and reconstructs the message using the data in the packets.
Visuals of an IP Address
IP Addresses can get pretty confusing to write. Each address is really just a big number. For instance the address of TheSecurityMachine.com might be 52533395 – written in base 10, or 00000011001000011001100010010011 – written in base 2, the binary used by computer memory. To simplify these numbers, we shorten them into a series of 4 decimal numbers between 0-255. For instance, that address for MEI Security is easier to read as 126.96.36.199. This is all just for IPv4, which uses 32 bit addresses allowing it to have 4 billion addresses. The newer version of IP, IPV6 on the other hand uses 128 bit addresses allowing it to have over 340 undecillion addresses (more about IPV4-IPV6 in a future post). For most users we hide the addresses by using names, like “TheSecurityMachine.com”. This just makes it easier for humans. We can type in TheSecurityMachine.com to go to the website, instead of having to type 188.8.131.52.
With all great inventions and ideas, there are always a few setbacks in the process to get to what you want. For IP addresses, that was almost a 10 YEAR struggle. The first IP made, also known as IPV1, was made in 1973. Because of the large amounts of bugs and inefficiencies to transport information clearly, it took 3 IP addresses versions and almost 10 years to design the current and most successful version that was optimized for public use which is now called IPV4.
Life without IP’s
Over the years we have evolved as well as altered our technology to better utilize all of its capabilities. Through the use of IP we are able to quickly send messages and important information to anywhere from virtually anywhere. Internet Protocols are a crucial but overlooked feature of technology. Although IP’s seem like such a small change in today’s technology when really, IP has truly revolutionized and laid the groundwork for the next generation of technology and more efficiently allowing ways to transport information around the world from the comfort of wherever. Everyday developers are updating and altering IP Addresses to better suit people’s needs when it comes to staying connected around the world. Whether it be through IPV1 to IPV4 and even to IPV6, technology would truly be nowhere without Internet Protocols.
Mason J. Luceus