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‘An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical identifier that tells devices where to send data between devices on a private network (such as your home WiFi) or a public network such as the internet. IP addresses are essential as they provide you with online protection, security and reliability. If you have googled IP and are looking for Intellectual Property then you might have more luck**here**.
A typical IP address you may have seen is made up of 4 blocks of 3 numbers e.g 192.168.40.25 this is known as an IPv4 address It starts at 0.0.0.0 and goes through to 255.255.255.255, meaning there are around 4 billion combinations. With the internet as big as it is the IPv4 range of addresses is now exhausted and an updated version IPv6 has been introduced that will be that is made up of 8 blocks of 4 letters and characters e.g. 2udy:7362:9483:nw98:jc93:23ps:8273:9482 meaning there are now trillions of IP addresses available.
Some IP addresses are reserved for a particular type of network, for example the range 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.255.255 is reserved for private networks along with some others. A private network is a home network or a business network where the devices are not directly connected to the internet, they are instead connected to a router which routes the traffic to and from the internet. The router will have a public IP address that is visible on the internet, typically a home router will have one public IP address, but a business may have several.
Your home router is likely to have a dynamic IP address, this is an IP that will change when your router restarts, for a home setup this is generally fine as you do not usually have any hardware on your network that needs to be found on the internet. However, for a business you might need a fixed IP which, you guessed it, will never change. This is because there will be email servers or web servers within your network that need to be accessed on the internet. A fixed IP address is required for this otherwise the rest of the internet would never find you.
If the computers on your local network used a reserved address how does my computer connect to the internet? This is where address translation comes in, your router has a public address and routes all traffic via that. In turn, all the computers on that network appear to have the same address.
IANA, the Internet Assigned Number Authority, is one of the oldest institutions on the internet. IANA coordinates many key elements to help the internet to run smoothly. Generally, the internet is a worldwide network that does not need central coordination. However, that is not the case for all elements of the internet, and that is where IANA comes in. IANA allocates and maintains unique codes and numbering systems AKA they sort out internet protocols.
Three elements that IANA look after:
Domain Names Management of the DNS Root, the .int and .arpa domains, and an IDN practices resource.
Number Resources Co-ordination of the global pool of IP and AS numbers, primarily providing them to Regional Internet Registries (RIRs).
Protocol Assignments Internet protocols’ numbering systems are managed in conjunction with standards bodies.