IP addresses are essential features in today’s connected world since you can’t use the internet if your device doesn’t have one.
You may never need to know your IP address, but it’s important to understand what it does and what security threats it can pose.
One of the fundamental devices in establishing an internet connection is a router, without which you can’t connect to the internet.
Now, you may wonder if a router has an IP address and how you can access it.
Do Routers Have IP Addresses?
Yes, all routers have unique IP addresses because those addresses work as the ID numbers that make them known on the web.
Routers have at least two IP addresses, one for identifying it within a LAN and another for identifying it in the public network.
Both of these addresses are assigned by your internet service provider.
You can see your router’s IP address via the Windows Command Prompt and the ipconfig command.
It’s in the form of a string of numbers divided into four groups set apart by periods.
The most common benefit of knowing this IP address is when you want to change the hardware settings of your router.
The router has other IP addresses that it assigns to each device connected to it in a Local Area Network (LAN).
If two devices are connected to the router, it will have three IP addresses.
What Does An IP Address Do?
Internet Protocol (IP) is a set of rules designed for all devices that use the internet and controls how they share data over networks.
It works as a language universal among all devices to facilitate communication from any location.
When you connect to the internet via your devices, be it a smartphone, a laptop computer, or an IoT device, you need to make the device identifiable to other devices.
This way, your activity can be tracked to increase transparency and reduce security threats.
That’s where an IP address comes into play.
IP addresses are unique strings of numbers divided into four sections separated by periods.
Without an IP address, your router doesn’t know to which device to send or “route” data.
These IP addresses work just like real-world addresses for physical locations.
IP addresses aren’t assigned randomly because they have to show the senders where to send data packets.
They’re meaningful strings of numbers that give servers information about senders and receivers.
As a result, the string of numbers allocated to your router shows which country you are in, although it doesn’t indicate the exact location.
In addition to routers, computers, smartphones, and IoT devices, websites also have IP addresses to make them identifiable over the internet.
However, we don’t use the IP address to access them.
We use their domain names instead.
How To Get Your Router’s IP Address?
Knowing your router’s IP address isn’t necessary under normal circumstances.
Most average internet users only need to know their router’s IP address to change its hardware settings.
For example, if you want to change your router’s password or SSID, you need to access its web interface, enter your username and password, and change your intended settings.
The router’s IP address works as the web interface address you enter in your browser’s address bar.
You can get this IP address in different ways on different devices.
1. Windows Command Prompt
The easiest way to get your router’s IP address on a Windows device is through the command prompt.
All you need to do is open a Command Prompt window by typing “command prompt” in the taskbar’s search box and pressing Enter.
Type in ipconfig and hit Enter.
Your router’s IP address is listed as Default gateway in four sets of numbers separated by periods.
2. Windows Network Settings
To be 100% certain that you have the right router IP address, you can double-check it via the Windows Settings.
Right-click the Start button and select Settings.
Go to Network & Internet and select Wi-Fi on the left panel.
Go to Network and Sharing center on the right and click on your network ID.
Click on the Details button and look for IPv4 Default Gateway.
3. Apple Devices
The router’s IP address on a Mac device is accessible via the Network option.
To access this option, go to the Apple menu by clicking the Apple icon and go to System Preferences > Network.
Click on the network you’re connected to and select Advanced on the bottom right.
In the new window, you can see different network types from which you should select TCP/IP.
Here, you can see the router’s IP address.
Getting the router’s IP address on an iPhone or iPad is pretty straightforward.
Simply, go to Settings and select Wi-Fi.
Tap your Wi-Fi network and see your router’s IP address under the device’s IP address and your subnet mask.
4. Android Devices
You can access your IP address via Android Settings.
Go to Wi-Fi > Additional/Advanced Settings > IP Address.
However, this IP address belongs to your smartphone and doesn’t show your router’s IP address.
That’s because Android doesn’t have the feature to show the router’s IP address/
You can use third-party analyzer Android apps, such as Wi-Fi Analyzer, to access your router’s IP address and learn many other things about your connections.
Who Assigns IP Addresses?
Different entities assign IP addresses depending on the network you’re connected to.
It’s a type of hierarchy that ends with your router assigning local and private IP addresses to each device.
However, the router can’t generate a public IP address on its own, so it needs a higher authority to grant it the IP address.
It’s an entity that gives users access to the internet and routes internet activity to and from private networks.
This authority is your Internet Service Provider (such as AT&T), which has a large pool of IP addresses and assigns them to different users.
The ISP has to get these blocks of IP addresses from a higher authority, the Regional Internet Registry (RIR), which works in a broader geographical location.
These locations include the African region, Asia Pacific, North America and North Atlantic, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.
However, these regional registries aren’t the ultimate IP-assigning authority.
They get their blocks of IP addresses—which they distribute in their respective regions—from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
This organization manages all of the world’s IP addresses and assigns them to the five regional authorities.
1. Local Vs. Public IP Addresses
If you’ve ever checked different IP addresses for different routers, there’s a high chance that the IP address of most routers is 192.168.1.1.
Then the IP addresses of devices connected to that router are 192.168.1.2, 192.168.1.3, and so on.
However, your router’s IP address may be the same as your friend’s, and your computer’s IP address is the same as theirs.
If every device has a unique IP address, why do most routers have the same IP address, but nothing gets mixed up?
The main reason is that IP addresses are assigned at different levels, and the router is the last layer of this multi-layered IP-assigning hierarchy.
When your computer connects to the router, it becomes part of the local network created by your router.
This network is a private LAN that only the devices connected to the router are part of.
Any device not belonging to this network is an outsider that can have an IP address like yours without causing any conflicts.
Only the devices within the same private network need to have unique addresses.
That’s why your computer’s IP address may be 192.168.1.1, while your smartphone’s IP address is 192.168.1.2.
As long as your device is part of a private network, its IP address doesn’t need to be unique in the wider network.
On the other hand, the router must communicate with other devices and networks outside its local and private network, which must have a unique IP address.
As a result, the private IP address is translated into a public address used to identify the router in a Wide Area Network (WAN).
This translation involves assigning a unique four-section string of numbers created by Network Address Translation (NAT).
This new IP address works as your public address given to the WAN so that other websites can send data to you via this address.
This is the public IP address that you can know via websites such as What’s My IP.
2. IPv4 Vs. IPv6
If you check your router’s IP address via the Command Prompt or Windows Settings, you’ll see another address labeled IPv4.
IPv4 is a version of an IP address that uses a numerical system to identify devices.
It’s the first version of IP addressing that has been used since 1983, introduced by the ARPANET.
The IP address that you find for your router is of the IPv4 type.
IPv4 uses a 32-bit number represented in the binary code.
However, since it’s difficult for users to read the binary numbers due to the long strings, they’re converted to numerical strings separated by dots.
Each part of the numbered string separated by periods can be a number from 0 to 255.
As a result, these numbers can’t be higher than 255, limiting the number of IPs.
This binary format means that the IPv4 version can generate 232 (more than 4 billion) addresses.
This number was more than enough when the IPv4 was first introduced.
However, with the widespread use of the internet and the overwhelming growth of connected devices, we may soon run out of IP addresses.
Out of this fear, another addressing protocol was introduced: IPv6.
It uses eight strings of numbers written in the hexadecimal notation separated by colons instead of periods.
The IPv6 protocol can generate an overwhelmingly large number of IP addresses, as big as 2128 addresses, which is a 39-digit number.
However, few routers have IPv6 addresses because we still haven’t run out of IPv4 addresses.
3. Static Vs. Dynamic IP Addresses
IP addresses can be static or dynamic, depending on their ability to remain the same or change.
A. Dynamic IP Addresses
Dynamic IP addresses aren’t permanent, meaning once you have one IP address, you don’t get to use it all the time.
Whenever you turn off your router and turn it back on, your ISP assigns you a different IP address.
Once you turn your router back on, it gets a new IP address that may have belonged to another customer.
Your IP also changes when you switch to a different network.
For example, when you’re traveling and connect to different networks, such as the airport, a coffee shop, or your hotel, your IP address changes every time you change your network.
All these changes are done automatically, and in the back end, so you don’t need to worry about memorizing or adjusting your IP address.
Dynamic addresses also change even if you don’t change your network.
ISPs have a large pool of these IP addresses and recycle them among their customers.
They rearrange these addresses and distribute them among customers periodically and randomly.
As a result, changing the IP address is easier when it’s needed.
For example, when you change your home, the ISP can change your IP address more smoothly without going through a specific process.
In addition, a dynamic IP address makes it more difficult for hackers to access your IP and hack your network.
B. Static IP Addresses
Average internet users, such as home users, don’t need a static IP address.
That’s because you don’t generally need a fixed address to help others find you.
It’s more important for businesses and servers that need to be accessible at the same address consistently.
Static addresses aren’t free, and companies must purchase them because it’s not convenient for ISPs to allocate one address permanently to an entity.
That’s because they have a limited number of blocks, and if they assign them permanently to one user, they can’t use them anymore.
It’s different from dynamic addresses, which are recycled and used several times among different users.
4. IP Address Vs. MAC Address
One of the most important addresses you may encounter while using the internet is the MAC address.
The MAC address is another string of numbers used to identify your device.
However, the MAC address and IP address are completely different.
While your ISP assigns your IP address, your MAC address is determined by the NIC Card’s Manufacturer.
The Media Access Control Address (MAC) shows the device’s physical address, and most importantly, it’s always fixed.
As a result, no one can have the same MAC address as your device because it’s hardware-related while the IP address is software-related.
Although these two types of addresses are different, they work together to facilitate data transfer and internet use.
How To Hide Your IP Address
IP addresses are subject to different cyber threats.
Cybercriminals may try to access your IP address through social engineering or online stalking.
After hacking your IP address, they use it to perform illegal activities using your identity.
They may also hack into your device and steal your information.
Therefore, hiding your IP address is essential, especially when using an application such as Skype that reveals your IP address.
You may also decide to hide your IP address to disguise your geographical location, bypass filtering, or avoid leaving a digital footprint.
The best way to hide your IP is to use a VPN that lends you another IP address to show the world.
This way, you can choose another country as your current location, preventing others from tracking your location.
That’s the safest and fastest way to hide your IP address without sacrificing speed and quality.
However, not all VPN providers are the same, and some of them may even be involved in shady activities.
Therefore, it’s important to choose a reliable VPN service.
There’s another way to borrow another user’s IP, although it may not be as effective as a VPN in bypassing filters.
You can go to a public place and use their free Wi-Fi, and thus, their IP address.
However, you should know that you’re still at risk of being hacked or spied on since a public place’s internet connection isn’t different from your home’s connection.
Alternatively, you could use a proxy as an intermediary between you and your target web server.
This way, you don’t interact with and send requests to the web server directly, borrowing the proxy’s IP address to work on your behalf.