How long is an IP address

What actually is an IP address and what does it reveal about the user?

The IP address is often referred to as a "digital fingerprint". But what does an IP address actually look like, where does it come from and what does it reveal about its owner?

An Internet PC without an IP address is like a telephone without a telephone number. Because without the IP addresses, all data sent over the Internet would come to nothing. What does this mean for the user? t-online.de clears up.

What is an IP address?

Every device within a data network needs an address so that it can be clearly identified. This applies to both the small home network and the Internet. This is the only way to ensure that the data stream arrives at the correct device. When you visit a website, the browser always also transmits the IP address of your device. This is the only way for the web server to know where to send the desired data package.

The abbreviation IP stands for Internet Protocol. The Internet Protocol is a widely used network standard - comparable to an international lingua franca for computers. Like the sentence grammar in German, English and French, the Internet Protocol also prescribes the form in which information can be exchanged.

One of these rules is that every computer that is supposed to communicate over the Internet needs an IP address. The same applies to Internet telephones, DSL routers and servers that offer Internet sites, for example.

What does an IP address look like?

A well-known example of an IP address is 192.168.0.1. This address is based on the old IPv4 standard: four numbers in the range from 0 to 255, each number separated from the next by a point. However, only a limited number of combinations can be represented with this system.

This is why it is increasingly common to find IP addresses that comply with the new standard in version 6 (IPv6). are constructed. They can be recognized by the fact that they consist of eight blocks of characters that contain letters as well as digits, as in this example: fe80: 0010: 0000: 0000: 0000: 0000: 0000: 0001. Since this looks rather confusing, a long string of zeros can be replaced by a colon. The IPv6 address from the example would then look like this in abbreviated form: fe80: 0010 :: 1.

How can I determine the IP address?

A computer's IP address can be determined using the Windows command prompt and the ipconfig command. If you are using a router, you will only see your internal (local) IP address in this case. However, this address is not visible from the outside. You can find out your externally visible IP address via the website www.meine-aktuelle-ip.de, for example.

Do I always keep the same external IP address?

Usually not. As soon as your router connects to the Internet, it receives an IP address that is dynamically assigned by the Internet service provider. As a result, the provider needs significantly fewer IP addresses than he has customers, since all customers are never online at the same time. As a rule, Internet connections are automatically disconnected from the provider after 24 hours at the latest and the router is given a new IP address.

In parallel, there are static IP addresses that never change. For example, they are given for websites such as t-online.de, which should always be accessible under their URL. Servers or network printers also usually have a static IP address so that they can be accessed quickly.

What does my IP address reveal about me?

The IP address can be used to find out which Internet provider you are using and which region you are in. The number blocks of an IP address - such as 80.210.x.x - are not reserved for a specific country or region. However, the IP address ranges are distributed to Internet providers, large companies and authorities.

For example, it is likely that the IP addresses of Deutsche Telekom customers start with 81, 91, or 212. And depending on how far away the next Internet access point is, the location also works (Geolocation) more or less precise. In urban regions, the dial-in nodes are usually only a few hundred meters away from your home. In rural areas it is usually a few kilometers, the dial-in node can be found in the next larger city.

The Internet provider can also use the IP address to track the data stream of its customers. In theory, your internet service provider knows what you were looking for on the internet, which pages you visited and which files you downloaded. According to current legislation, however, Internet providers must delete all the history data of an Internet session as soon as it has ended. How long IP addresses assigned to customers must be stored by the provider has not yet been legally clarified. Several constitutional complaints against data retention are pending before the Federal Constitutional Court.

Abstract: What is an IP address?
1.IP addresses are necessary to send data from one device to another in a network (like the sender and recipient of a letter)
2. When a website is called up, the IP address of the router is transmitted to the web server
3. A distinction is made between dynamic and static IP addresses

Does the IP address provide a loophole for hackers?

An IP address alone can hardly be a gateway for hackers. The IP address can serve as a starting point to sniff out a PC for security gaps. However, a hacker faces many hurdles on this path. Because a firewall is switched on on most computers to protect against attacks of this kind.

In addition, most PCs connect to the Internet via a router. The router in turn has its own IP address and its own protection mechanisms. In order to start an attack on the computer, the hacker would have to get past the router first. Since dynamic IP addresses are constantly changing, an IP hacker would have to overcome all of these hurdles relatively quickly.

How can I hide my IP address?

An IP address cannot be completely hidden. But there are different programs like Tor that you can use to smear your fingerprint on the Internet. But there is a disadvantage with such programs: The speed of surfing has to suffer. Because the applications switch like an intermediary between your computer and the web pages you are visiting.