Is there a risk from exposing my IP address to the world during an Internet connection?

As in the real world, the virtual world also has bad people who always try to find holes to gain access to Internet users' computers to distribute virus, spam, adware, spyware, malware, to make them little agents for starting an attack to a big company's server, or to steal their user names, passwords, and credit cards details. In fact, the potential attackers don't rely only on IP addresses information to find their targets, they may use e-mail, website's active element, file sharing and other client-side applications to cause damage or identify personal information.

Fortunately, you can protect your computer using firewall, antivirus and anti spyware. Those tools usually have been integrated into e-mail clients, Internet browsers and Operating Systems (OS). But to stay safe, your software must be always up to date. Be sure to update your protection software and your PC's OS regularly. Software updates are usually provided by the software vendors periodically or when there is a new kind of threat.

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How can I hide my IP address?

If you access the Internet through a proxy server, it's the proxy's IP address that is seen by the website you visit and other parties who silently monitor your Internet session. However, your identity is still known to the proxy server. 

If your computer connects to the Internet through a broadband router (or residential gateway), your computer IP address is hidden from the Internet because your router's IP address represents you on the Internet. However, your identity is still known to your ISP who assigns an IP address to your router.

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What is IP address version 6 and what is it for?

The 32-bit IP address described above is IP version 4 (IPv4) address. IP version 6 (IPv6) address is 128 bits (16 bytes) long, that's 4 times longer than IPv4 address. IPv6 address is written in eight pairs of hexadecimal numbers separated by a colon in between. Each pair of hexadecimal numbers represents a byte. Example: D1E5:0020:11F0:0E01:13B3:80A2:A3C1:3B1D

IPv6 was originally meant to increase the number of available IP addresses from 232 (that's more than 4 billion) to 2128 (use your calculator !) to anticipate the exponential growth in the number of computers and devices that will be connected to the Internet. Later on, IP version 6 is intended to provide QoS support over the Internet and introduce improvement in routing, security, and network configuration. Many new networking products support both IPv4 and IPv6 to take advantage of IPv6's strength while maintaining support for the predominantly IPv4 networks.

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Assignment : Try converting back all IP addresses mentioned in this article into binary numbers that will consist of bits 1 and 0.

Hint : For IPv4 addresses, convert each decimal number set to a binary number. For IPv6 address, convert each pair of hexadecimal numbers to a binary number.

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