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What Is the Difference Between A Public and Private IP Address?



The internet has turned the world into a global village, both literally and figuratively. Each device, server and website on the internet is like a house. All of them have their own addresses just like a normal town would. These identities specific to each home are known as IP addresses on the internet. People can obviously choose for their address to be public or private.

While it is personal preference, a private IP address is much better than a public one for obvious reasons. Here is shed light on the differences between these two and some of the ways in which the IP address can be made private.

What is an IP address?

An IP or Internet Protocol address is the digital identity assigned to every device or website that is connected to the internet. It helps users and websites find their way around the internet. When accessing a website for instance, as soon as you type the URL in the browser’s address bar and hit enter, a packet of data is created which contains your IP address and of the website, you want to visit.

This is how the internet knows where you want to go and how the website can tell where a request is coming from. If you want to check your current IP address, simply go to the Google homepage and type what is my IPand the results will tell you the answer. The IP address changes every time the device creates a new network connection.

The difference between private and public IP addresses

An IP address can be in one of two categories. The name itself indicates their nature. A public IP address is one that is easily accessible over the internet. Anyone who is connected to the same network as you can tell what your IP address is if they have the right skills. The local ISP or the website you are visiting are definitely able to tell what your IP is.

On the other hand, a private IP address is usually assigned to devices within enclosed cyberspace. This can include a team of workers inside an office or household users inside a specific network. A private IP address is not visible to people openly, on the internet. It is visible to other members in the same network but not beyond that.

The dangers of a public IP address

An IP address is like your home address was to be left unattended in a place where millions of people pass every day. The biggest danger from a public IP address comes from the local Internet Service Provider (ISP). These companies are able to keep logs based on each IP address. They have email addresses, the websites you are visiting and even the information being entered on them.

This data is available for purchase. This is how user email addresses end up in mailing lists from which hundreds of marketing messages are received. Unfortunately, this is the least that can happen with a public IP address. The dangers extend into the region of cybercrime where user location and private information is used for identity theft and causing financial or other forms of damages. 

How to hide the IP address?

There are a number of ways in which the IP address can be made private. Sadly, not all of them are available to the general public. After all, if everyone was to be given the authority to hide their digital identity, many companies would find themselves without additional revenue streams. Still, people who are aware of the current cybersecurity situation would know the importance of a private IP address.

Some of the ways in which an IP address can be hidden include contacting the ISP directly. They will obviously be reluctant and in most cases will refuse to provide a private IP address to a general user. Other ways include using proxy servers which are agonizingly slow and still not very reliable. One of the most effective ways is to use a VPN.

Why a VPN is the most effective solution

Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are programs developed by privacy-minded companies. They are available for use to normal people and they help by masking user IP addresses. This not only hides your location but also makes the data traffic anonymous. No ISP or any other person even if they are on the same network as you will be able to tell where you are and what you are doing on the internet.

However, with VPNs, there is just one catch. Users have to be careful to pick a reliable service because a few free ones have been caught logging and selling user information to third parties. There are only a few trustworthy options on the market. The best way to make the right choice is by reading independent reviews.


A private IP address is key to preserving online privacy. A VPN like Ivacy can help you do just that. With award-winning performance, a strict zero data logging policy and secure servers in more than 100 countries, this is one of the best VPNs on the market.

Thanks for reading

Author Bio:

Scott O’Connor is a cyber-security professional. He’s been writing in the internet privacy niche for a while now and has churned variety of informational pieces to educate his audience.