What is a Public IP Address

Back in 2010, the hacking group Anonymous was making the FBI look like a joke.

Things came to a crashing halt when one of the major leaders, Sabu, made a rookie mistake. He left his public IP address exposed, and FBI agents were at his door in no time.

What is a public IP address, and how could its exposure lead to the takedown of one of the world's most infamous hackers?

Keep reading on to learn the basics of IP addresses and how computers communicate.

The Basics of IP Addresses

The IP in IP address stands for internet protocol.  Each computer, router, or smartphone has its own unique address.

You can think of this address in a similar way you think of your home address. When someone wants to send you mail, they give the mailman your address.

When a webpage wants to send your computer information, it uses your IP address.

Without an address, other devices can't communicate with yours.

There are both private and public IP addresses, read more about private IP addresses here.

What is a Public IP Address?

A Public IP address identifies your specific computer or device while you're online. It is a set of four numbers that each range from 0 to 255. A public IP address in number form would look like "".

If you tried to type in random numbers, then your internet service provider wouldn't accept it. In other words, your device wouldn't be able to get online.

Where Does my Public IP Address Come From?

Though the string of numbers appears random, they are not. Your public IP address is assigned to you by your internet service provider.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers controls all IP addresses. They give your internet provider a limited number of addresses.

Then, your ISP assigns the IP address to your computer.

Disadvantages of a Public IP Address

Now that you can see how your IP address works like your home address, you may worry about your privacy.

It's possible for governmental agencies to locate someone by IP address identification. 

If you're accused of an online crime, then they'll locate your IP address. Agents then subpoena your internet service provider to get your name. 

Government agents, computer hackers, or criminals can track your IP address. Information on how to hide your public IP address is available online.

Number of IP Addresses

There are a limited amount of addresses available because the property is not unlimited. In the same way, there are a limited amount of available IP addresses.

If two devices have the same address, then the result is an IP address conflict.

Yet another distinction lies between IP addresses. Your address falls into one of these categories:

  • IPv4 Address
  • IPv6 Address

IPv4 addresses are now outdated. This original system could only sustain four billion unique IP addresses.

The world has already surpassed that number, so now we use IPv6 addresses. This new system can handle 340 trillion unique addresses.

How Do I Get a Static IP Address?

Your internet service provider gives you your public IP address. It's possible to buy a static IP, but they are usually costly. You may get a discount when the ISP offers a business package with static IP addresses.

Overview of Your Public IP Address

What is a public IP address? It's your device's specific identifying code that helps it connect to other devices.

To learn yours, type in "what's my public IP address" into Google and find out!

Or go to http://whatsmyrouterip.com/ where they'll tell you.



Jonathan has a masters degree in Computer Engineering, loves programming and creating web services that help people perform various tedious tasks.

In his free time, he writes informative articles about networking and routers for RouterReset.com

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